NASA criticizes China after rocket returns to Earth uncontrolled

China was criticized for flouting safety standards after the remains of a rocket crashed through Earth’s atmosphere into the sea off the Philippines on Saturday.

Beijing did not share the “specific trajectory” of the Long March 5B rocket crash, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Twitter.

“All spacefaring nations should follow established best practices and do their part to share this type of information in advance to enable reliable predictions of the potential risk of debris impact, especially for heavy-duty vehicles like the Long March 5B, which carry a significant one.” Risk of loss of life and property,” Nelson wrote.

“This is crucial for the responsible use of space and to keep people safe here on Earth,” he added.

The Long March 5B, China’s most powerful rocket, launched on July 24. The following day, she arrived at the Chinese space station Tianhe with a new laboratory module for scientific experiments.

The Long March 5B Y3 launch vehicle carrying the Wentian laboratory module takes off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang, south China's Hainan province, on July 24, 2022.
The Long March 5B Y3 launch vehicle launches from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China’s Hainan province on July 24.Li Gang/Xinhua via AP file

Debris from the rocket, which was 10 stories tall and weighed nearly 23 tons, was flying at up to 17,000 miles per hour before crashing into the Philippine Sea at 12:55 a.m. local time (12:55 p.m. ET).

The China Manned Space Agency reported that most of the rocket burned up after entering the atmosphere. The agency previously said the booster was allowed to fall unguided.

The announcement gave no details on whether the remaining debris fell on land or sea, but said the “landing area” was at longitude 119 degrees east and latitude 9.1 degrees north. This is in waters southeast of the Philippine city of Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan.

There was no immediate word from Philippine authorities as to whether anyone at the scene was affected.

“You’re throwing a couple of cars’ worth of material over a very large area,” Ted Muelhaupt, an aerospace consultant, told NBC News.


“That’s more than 10 times the accepted standards for risks that the US uses,” said Muelhaupt, a consultant for Aerospace Corporation, a US nonprofit corporation that operates a federally funded research and development center in El Segundo, California.

“It’s something people can’t do,” he said, adding that the industry standard is to intentionally move large objects to safe locations away from people.

“People are watching, people are worried people are getting calls, ‘is this going to hit my house? That kind of reaction to the uncertainty of an event like this is its own price,” he said.

Before landing, China’s Foreign Ministry said the risk to the public was very low and most of the rocket would burn up upon re-entry.

Videos emerged overnight showing parts of the rocket hurtling through the skies over Malaysia as the debris re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.

This isn’t the first time China has free-falled a missile back to Earth. Last May, another uncontrolled Chinese launch vehicle fell from the sky and landed in the Indian Ocean.

China plans to send another laboratory to its space station in October.

Associated Press contributed. NASA criticizes China after rocket returns to Earth uncontrolled

Fry Electronics Team

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