The remains of a Long March 5B rocket fired over the weekend are being carefully tracked by China, although the odds of debris causing harm are very low, according to the foreign ministry on Wednesday.

China was accused of being opaque last year, notably by NASA, when it remained mute regarding the predicted debris trajectory and reentry window of a Long March 5B rocket. 

China’s most powerful rocket launched on the third time since its inaugural flight in 2020 on Sunday, delivering a module into orbit as part of the construction of a Chinese space station. 

When asked whether China knew when and where the rocket debris may fall, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a routine media conference that this sort of rocket uses a particular technological design and that most components would be destroyed during reentry.

Zhao said that the likelihood of inflicting damage to aircraft or the ground was quite low.

Scientists believe that since water covers the majority of the Earth’s surface, the chances of a populous region on land being struck by such debris are minimal. However, in 2020, fragments of the first Long March 5B landed over Ivory Coast, causing damage to multiple structures.

A few hours after Zhao’s effort to assuage fears, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) issued an unusual public announcement revealing the position of the rocket.

According to the agency, the rocket was 263.2 kilometers from Earth at its farthest point and 176.6 kilometers from Earth at its closest point as of 4:00 p.m. (0800 GMT).

The rocket is projected to reenter the atmosphere in the next days due to the gravitational pull of the Earth.

CMSA provided no projected reentry information on Wednesday.

Source: Reuters

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