NASA, the US space agency, blasted China for failing to meet “responsible standards for its space debris” after the remains of a Chinese rocket plunged into the Indian Ocean.
“Space nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth from re-entering space objects and maximize transparency regarding these operations,” CNN said, citing the statement by NASA administrator Senator Bill Nelson.
“China does not meet responsible standards regarding their space debris,” he added.
The remains of China’s largest rocket landed in the Indian Ocean on Sunday.
Most of the massive Long March 5B rocket, however, burned as it re-entered the atmosphere, China’s manned space engineering office said in a WeChat post, before landing just west of the Maldives. It is not known if any debris landed in the Maldives.
The US Space Command said the Long March 5B had returned to Earth over the Arabian Peninsula.
The rocket, which was about 108 feet tall and weighs nearly 40,000 pounds, launched a piece of a new Chinese space station into orbit on April 29.
Once its fuel was exhausted, the rocket was left to traverse space uncontrollably until Earth’s gravity brought it back to the ground.
Typically, most rockets used to lift satellites and other objects into space either perform more controlled re-entries that target the ocean, or they are left in so-called “graveyard” orbits that keep them in space. for decades or centuries.
But the Long March rocket is designed in such a way that it “leaves these big stages in low orbit,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard University’s Center for Astrophysics.