World China State Media Says Out-of-Control Rocket Debris 'Likely' to Fall in Water
China launches main part of its 1st permanent space station
BEIJING (AP) — China on Thursday launched the main module of its first permanent space station that will host astronauts long term, the latest success for a program that has realized a number of its growing ambitions in recent years. The Tianhe, or “Heavenly Harmony," module blasted into space atop a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Launch Center on the southern island province of Hainan, marking another major advance for the country’s space exploration. © Provided by Associated Press In this image taken from undated video footage run by China's CCTV via AP Video, a rendering of a module of a Chinese space station is shown.
Anewspaper aligned with the country's government published a story on Wednesday that downplays the 's monitoring of potentially dangerous space debris from a Chinese rocket as "nothing but Western hype."
The Global Times, an English- and Chinese-language publication that functions as a de facto mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, said that reports of the debris being "out of control" or that it "may cause damage if it hits inhabited areas" are untrue. Instead, the paper contended, Chinese space analysts predict that any remains of the rocket are "very likely to fall in international waters and people needn't worry."
Scientists unsure where uncontrolled rocket debris will hit Earth
Its fast speed makes its landing place nearly impossible to predict, but it is expected to make landfall in the coming days. © Provided by CBS News A Long March-5B Y2 rocket carrying the core module of China's space station, Tianhe, blasts off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on April 29, 2021, in Wenchang, Hainan Province of China. / Credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images "U.S.
The story comes on the heels of reports that the Pentagon was tracking a free-falling Chinese rocket that could strike Earth by Saturday. There was also indications of some concern coming from the United States Department of Defense about where the debris may make impact.
The debris would come from a 100-foot section of China's Long March-5B Y2 carrier rocket, which sent the first section of China's space station into orbit after launching from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China's Hainan Province on April 29.
The Global Times wrote that observers said such warnings were only due to the U.S. feeling threatened by China's advancement in space technology. The paper quoted aerospace expert and TV commentator Song Zhongping, who said it is "completely normal" for rocket debris to return to Earth.
China Says 'Vast Majority' of Rocket Will Burn Up on Re-Entry, Low Threat to People
China said that a "vast majority" of its rocket expected to plummet back to Earth over the weekend will burn on its re-entry and poses a low threat.The rocket carried China's core space station module named Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, into orbit on April 29.
"In all, it is another hyping of the so-called 'China space threat' adopted by some Western forces," Song said. "It's an old trick used by hostile powers every time they see technological breakthroughs in China, as they are nervous."
Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University, toldon Tuesday night that people should not consider the reports the "not the end of days."
"I don't think people should take precautions. The risk that there will be some damage or that it would hit someone is pretty small—not negligible, it could happen—but the risk that it will hit you is incredibly tiny," McDowell said. "And so I would not lose one second of sleep over this on a personal threat basis."
Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, was also quoted by The Global Times and said: "Most of the debris will burn up during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, leaving only a very small portion that may fall to the ground, which will potentially land on areas away from human activities or in the ocean."
Why you (probably) shouldn't panic about the falling Chinese rocket
A large section of a Long March 5B rocket is predicted to reenter Earth’s atmosphere on May 8 or May 9. Here's what you need to know.
Song was also quoted as having claimed the Long March-5B Y2 rocket used special fuel, which would not cause water pollution if the debris falls into the ocean. He also reportedly said China's space monitoring network will monitor on areas under the rocket's flight course and take necessary measures should any ships sailing beneath it appear in danger of being struck by debris.
China Says Space Program Being Held to 'Double Standard' Compared to U.S. After Rocket Debacle .
American space officials and others accused Beijing of acting recklessly for allowing the debris from the rocket to fall back to earth in a seemingly uncontrolled manner over the weekend. For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below. Hua believes China was treated unfairly for the incident, noting the reaction to debris from the U.S. launch of a SpaceX rocket that fell to earth along the border of Washington and Oregon in March.