Debris from a rocket that launched part of China’s new space station has fallen into the sea in the Philippines, the Chinese government announced uncontrolled fall of rocket on earth.
China’s Manned Space Agency said most of the final stage of the Long March-5B rocket burned up after entering the atmosphere. Previously, the agency had said it planned to allow the booster to fall unguided.
The location of the “landing area” cited by the announcement is in waters southeast of the Philippine city of Puerto Princess on the island of Palawan.
Philippine authorities did not immediately confirm if anyone had been affected. China has faced criticism before for allowing rocket components to fall to Earth unchecked.
NASA accused Beijing last year of “failing to meet responsible standards regarding its space debris” after parts of a Chinese rocket plummeted into the Indian Ocean.
The country’s first space station, Tiangong-1, crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 2016 after Beijing confirmed it had lost control. An 18-tonne rocket fell out of control in May 2020.
China also drew disapproval after using a missile to destroy one of its missing weather satellites in 2007, creating a debris field that other governments feared could endanger other satellites.
The July 24 Long March-5B, China’s most powerful rocket, launched the Wentian laboratory into orbit on July 24. It was attached to the Tianhe main module, where three astronauts live, on Monday.
The wreckage of a separate cargo spacecraft servicing the station fell into a predetermined area of the South Pacific after most of it burned up on re-entry, the government had announced.
China allows uncontrolled fall of rocket booster uncontrollably to Earth
China has faced criticism before for allowing space rocket parts to fall to Earth without guidance.