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Metal remnants from a Chinese rocket are expected to crash to Earth around Aug. 1, CNN reported Tuesday.
As much as 20-tons of debris from the Chinese rocket booster which delivered the Wentian laboratory module to China’s space station Sunday will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in an uncontrolled descent, CNN reported, citing a U.S. Space Command spokesperson.
“It’s a 20-tonne metal object,” Michael Byers, a professor at the University of British Columbia, told CNN. “Although it will break up as it enters the atmosphere, numerous pieces — some of them quite large — will reach the surface.”
The debris’ reentry zone is geographically confined between the latitudes of 41 degrees south and 41 degrees north of the equator, Byers said, placing a vast swath of the planet from New Zealand to New York in jeopardy.
The construction of China’s Tiangong space station began in April 2021 and is reportedly nearing completion following the successful docking of the Wentian laboratory module, CNN reported Monday. China’s space station is expected to be fully operational sometime in October after it receives a second laboratory module.
This is not the first time U.S. agencies have criticized China’s handling of space debris — NASA censured China for failing to “meet responsible standards” in May 2021 after Chinese rocket remnants slammed into the Indian Ocean near the Maldives.
Chinese state-run media pushed back against a perceived Western media “smear campaign” against its handling of space debris in an op-ed Tuesday, claiming the China Manned Space Agency had a “flawless safety record.”
“The U.S. is running out of ways to stop China’s development in the aerospace sector, so smears and defamation became the only thing left for it,” Song Zhongping, a TV commentator, told Global Times.
China was barred from participating in the International Space Station (ISS) after Congress passed the 2011 Department of Defense appropriations bill which stipulated that funds used for NASA and the Office of Science and Technology Policy could not be used in collaboration with China or any Chinese-owned company. The ISS has been an “international partnership of space agencies” between the U.S., Russia, 11 European nations, Japan and Canada, however Russia announced its intention to withdraw from ISS after 2024, according to The New York Times Tuesday.
While China conducted an unmanned moon landing in December 2020, the communist nation reportedly intends to send Chinese astronauts to the moon by 2030 with the aim of becoming a leading space power by 2045, BBC News reported.
The Chinese Embassy and U.S. Space Command did not respond immediately to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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