A giant piece from the first stage of the Chinese Long March 2D rocket fell to the Earth and got stuck in crops in the northwestern province of Gansu. A photo of the incident was published by eyewitnesses on the Chinese social network Weibo. The images show a massive metal structure, which is located vertically in freshly treated soil and protrudes about 7 meters in height.
The missing part probably belonged to a rocket that China launched on October 29 to put a batch of satellites into orbit. But the Chinese authorities have not yet commented on the incident. NASA administrator Bill Nelson has previously accused China of “non-compliance with responsible standards for space debris,” but colleagues from the American space agency do not seem to hear in the Celestial Empire.
Incidents with Long March
Rocket boosters of the Long March series have always been disposable. And this means that they either fall uncontrollably from a height, or remain in low Earth orbit, clogging it. Western officials have long criticized this practice, arguing that single-use boosters are harmful to the environment compared to reusable rocket parts, and are also potentially dangerous for people.
This is not the first incident with spent Chinese rockets. At the beginning of this year, the wreckage of the Long March 5B rocket did not burn up in the atmosphere and fell into the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In May 2020, the wreckage of a Chinese rocket fell in Cote d’Ivoire and damaged private property. The rest of the debris fell into the Indian Ocean near the Maldives.
Find a falling Chinese rocket
On October 31, the Chang Zheng 5B rocket sent the second module of the Chinese space station into orbit. It is expected that the remnants of the rocket will also fall to the Earth. But when and where it will happen, no one knows. Users of social networks are already offering to play the game “Find a falling Chinese rocket”.
Earlier we reported on how scientists calculated the risk of death from falling space debris.
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