(CNN) — The remnants of a massive Chinese missile that was descending uncontrollably fell to Earth and breached the atmosphere over the Indian Ocean at about 12:45 p.m. ET, the US Space Command said on Twitter.
China’s 23-tonne Long March 5B rocket, carrying a new module to the China Space Station, took off from Hainan Island at 2:22 p.m. local time on Sunday, July 24, and the module successfully docked at the Chinese orbital position.
Since then, the rocket has been on an uncontrolled descent into Earth’s atmosphere – the third time that China has been accused of not properly handling space debris from its rocket stage.
“No other country is leaving these 20-ton objects in orbit to re-enter in an out-of-control way,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told CNN reporter Jim Acosta.
In a statement Saturday on Twitter, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson wrote that China “did not share specific trajectory information” for the missile’s fall to Earth.
“All space-faring nations should follow established best practices and do their part to share this type of information in advance to allow reliable predictions of potential debris impact risks, particularly for heavy vehicles, such as the Long March 5B, which have a high risk of ‘losses’. in life and property.
“Doing so is critical to the responsible use of space and to ensuring the safety of people here on Earth,” he added.
In a statement, China’s manned space agency said the remnants of the rocket re-entered the atmosphere at around 12:55 a.m. Sunday Beijing time – or around 12:55 p.m. Saturday ET.
Most of the waste was burned during the re-entry process over the Sulu Sea, which lies between Borneo island and the Philippines, the agency added.
“What we really want to know is that any piece ended up on the floor,” McDowell told CNN. “It could take a little longer for the reports to be filtered again.”
The video posted online appears to show what experts believe are images of the missile booster burning in the atmosphere, but CNN cannot confirm its authenticity.
Vanessa Yulan, a resident of Kuching, Malaysia, shared a video with CNN showing what appears to be missile debris burning.
She told CNN she filmed the footage at around 12:50 a.m. local time, the same as Beijing time.
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