23-ton Chinese booster rocket crashes uncontrollably on Earth

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese cargo spacecraft that served the country’s permanent orbiting space station, amid differing concerns over China’s decision to allow a massive booster rocket to fall uncontrollably to Earth , has been substantially burnt upon re-entering the atmosphere.

The China Manned Space Agency said only small parts of the Tianzhou-3 ship survived a safe landing in a predetermined area of ​​the South Pacific on Wednesday.

As of July 17, the spacecraft was docked with the Tianhe core section of the station and its return follows the addition of a laboratory module on Monday as China moves to complete the station in the coming months.

China’s space program is run by the ruling Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, and has largely proceeded with the space station program without assistance from other countries. The US kicked China out of the International Space Station because of its military ties.

The booster that has caught the attention of the space community was part of the 23-ton Long March 5B-Y3 rocket – China’s most powerful – that carried the Wentian module to the station, which currently houses three astronauts.

China decided not to send the booster back into the atmosphere and it is unclear when or where it will land on Earth. Although it will largely burn upon return, there remains little risk of fragmentation or casualties.

While China is not alone in such practices, the size of the Long March rocket stage has drawn special scrutiny.

China has allowed rocket stages to fall back to Earth on its own at least twice before, and after parts of a Chinese rocket landed in the Indian Ocean by NASA last year “meeting responsible standards with respect to its space debris”. failed to do so”.

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China drew heavy criticism in 2007 after it used a missile to destroy one of its defunct weather satellites, creating a massive debris field.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Wednesday dismissed such concerns.

“Since the development phase of the space engineering program, China has focused on debris mitigation and return from orbit to the atmosphere of missions involving rocket carriers and orbiting satellites,” Zhao told a daily briefing on Wednesday. “

“It is understood that this type of rocket adopts a special technological design that most of the components will be burned and destroyed during the re-entry process,” Zhao said. “The potential for damage to aviation activities or on the ground is extremely low.”

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