A large segment of the Chinese rocket that made its return to the atmosphere on Sunday has disintegrated over the Indian Ocean, the Chinese space agency said, after strong speculation on where the object of 18 tons could fall.
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According to the monitoring and analysis, at 10:24 am (02:24 GMT) on May 9, 2021, the first stage of the Long-March 5B carrier rocket entered the atmosphere,
” the Chinese Space Engineering Bureau said. a press release, providing the coordinates of a point in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives. He said most of this segment disintegrated and was destroyed on entering the atmosphere. The Chinese authorities had said that the uncontrolled return of the segment of the Long March-5B rocket, which had placed the first module of its space station in orbit on April 29, presented little risk.
Space-Track, which used US military data, also confirmed this entry into the atmosphere.
Everyone who follows the re-entry of # LongMarch5B can relax.
The rocket has fallen,
We believe the rocket crashed in the Indian Ocean, but we are awaiting official data from @ 18SPCS,
" he added in another tweet, referring to a US squadron in charge of controlling the space.
The end point of the segment corresponds to the forecasts of some experts according to which there was a good chance that they would be damaged at sea because the planet is covered with 70% of water.
"Bet won but imprudent"
But an uncontrolled entry of an object of this size raised concerns about damage and possible casualties, despite the low statistical probability. "
The probability of causing damage to air activities or (people, buildings and activities) on the ground is extremely low,
" Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said last week. US Defense Minister Lloyd Austin assured this week that his country had no intention of destroying the rocket. He hinted, however, that its launch was not planned with enough care by China.
US and European space authorities have been monitoring the situation closely, trying to determine when and where it could fall. In 2020, debris from another Longue-Marche rocket crashed into villages in Côte d'Ivoire, causing damage, but no injuries. To prevent such scenarios from happening again, experts have recommended a redesign of the Long March-5B rocket, which lacks the ability to control its descent from orbit. "
Entry (into the atmosphere) over the ocean has always been statistically the most likely,
" tweeted Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard-based astronomer. “
It looks like China has won its bet (unless we have news of debris in the Maldives). But it'was still reckless
», He underlined.
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China has been investing billions of euros in its space program for several decades.
She sent her first astronaut into space in 2003 and landed a machine on the far side of the Moon in early 2019 - a world first.
Last year, moon samples were reported and Beijing finalized Beidou, its satellite navigation system (competitor to the American GPS).
China plans to land a robot on Mars in the coming weeks.
She also announced that she wanted to build a lunar base with Russia.