December 8, 2021

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China’s huge rocket that fell from space highlights debris risk of uncontrolled reentries

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After a huge Chinese rocket plummeted apparently into the ocean late Saturday (May 8), NASA’s new administrator condemned the country’s use of launch technology that makes uncontrolled reentries from orbit.

The rocket body that captured headlines around the world for more than a week was used during the April 28 launch of Tianhe, the core module of a new space station China is constructing in orbit. The launch was only the second for the nation’s new Long March 5B; the vehicle’s first launch, on May 5, 2020, also resulted in an uncontrolled reentry, this time raining pieces down in inhabited villages in Côte d’Ivoire, according to reports at the time, luckily with no casualties.

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