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CHINA ROCKET: Rocket debris has re-entered the atmosphere over the Indian Ocean, the US space command said

CHINA ROCKET: Rocket debris has re-entered the atmosphere over the Indian Ocean, the US space command said
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CNN

The remains of a giant Chinese rocket which was descending uncontrollably The US Space Command returned to Earth in the atmosphere over the Indian Ocean at about 12:45 p.m. Saturday said on Twitter.

The Chinese 23-ton Long March 5B rocket, which delivered a new module to its space station, lifted off from Hainan Island at 2:22 pm local time on Sunday, July 24, and the module successfully docked with China’s orbital outpost. The rocket has since been in an uncontrolled descent towards Earth’s atmosphere – marking China’s third has been accused for not properly handling space debris from its rocket stage.

“No other country puts these 20-ton objects into orbit to re-enter in an uncontrolled way,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Saturday afternoon.

In a statement on Twitter on Saturday, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson wrote China “did not share specific trajectory information” as the rocket returned to Earth.

“All spaceflight 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, especially for heavy-lift vehicles like the Long March 5B, which is a carries significant risk. Loss of life and property,” Nelson said.

“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, the China Manned Space Agency said the remains of the rocket entered the atmosphere at about 12:55 a.m. Beijing time on Sunday — or about 12:55 ET Saturday.

The agency added that most of the remains burned up during the re-entry process over the Sulu Sea, which lies between the island of Borneo and the Philippines.

“What we really want to know is which pieces actually sat on the ground,” McDowell told CNN. “The reports may take a little longer to filter.”

Videos and photos posted online show several bright objects drifting across the night sky above the city of Kuching in Sarawak, Malaysia. Vanessa Julan, a local resident, shared with CNN a video taken around 12:50 a.m. local time, which is the same as Beijing time.

On Sunday, Malaysia’s National Space Agency released a statement confirming that “burnt debris” from the Chinese Long March 5B rocket had been detected. “The rocket debris caught fire while entering Earth’s airspace and the movement of burning debris was detected in several areas, including crossing the airspace of Malaysia and the airspace around the state of Sarawak,” the agency said.

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