Uncontrolled debris from a Chinese rocket fell back to Earth near the Philippines, the Chinese government announced on Sunday.
Chinese officials did not say whether the debris landed on land or sea, but the “landing area” was at 119 degrees east longitude and 9.1 degrees north latitude – southeast of the Philippine city of Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan.
The wreckage was a rocket carrying a new laboratory module, the Long March 5B, for its Tiangong space station.
US officials also confirmed the rocket’s re-entry, and although no injuries or damage were reported from the wreckage of the 175-foot, 23-metric-ton rocket, China’s actions drew criticism from NASA.
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“All space-travelling countries 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 risk, particularly in the long run. For heavy-duty vehicles like the March 5B, that carries a significant risk of loss of life and property,” Nelson said in a series of tweets. “Doing so is critical to the responsible use of space and ensuring the safety of people on Earth.”
Videos shared on social media show the night sky being illuminated with debris re-entering the atmosphere.
The incident follows a similar incident in May 2021, when debris from a rocket also used to send material to the Tiangong space station fell back to Earth uncontrollably. After much uncertainty of where it would fall, the wreckage landed in the Indian Ocean without any injury or damage.
At the time, NASA said that China “failed to meet responsible standards with respect to its space debris.”
Contributions: Orlando Meyerquin, USA Today; The Associated Press
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5,