Austin, Texas: Debris from a Chinese rocket that descended uncontrolled to Earth on Friday evening prompted NASA Administrator Bill Nelson to issue a statement highly critical of the incident.
“Once again, the People’s Republic of China is taking unnecessary risks with the uncontrolled missile stage return in its Long March 5B missile stage,” Nelson said in a statement.
“They did not share specific trajectory information needed to predict landing zones and mitigate risk,” Nelson added.
It was the fourth time a Chinese Long March 5B rocket spiraled aimlessly toward Earth in the last two years, raising concerns every time the debris hits Earth.
Nelson’s statement contradicted a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, who told Bloomberg News on Thursday that Chinese officials “release information to the international community with an open and transparent attitude”.
China’s Manned Space Agency said debris from the country’s most powerful rocket re-entered the atmosphere at 6:08 p.m. Beijing time, with most of it burning up and the rest touching down in the Pacific Ocean at coordinates 101.9 degrees west, 9 ,9 degrees north. That is almost 1000 kilometers southwest of Acapulco in Mexico.
The rocket blasted off from southern China on October 31 to deliver the last module of the Chinese space station.
No one appeared to be harmed by the falling debris, but uncertainty over where it would fall caused fear in several countries, with Spain alone briefly closing airspace over the northeastern region of Catalonia and three other regions, causing delays for around 300 flights, authorities said.