A four-tonne piece of Chinese space junk made an uncontrolled free fall to Earth last week.
If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s happened before, more than once.
On March 8, the remnants of a Chinese rocket that delivered a trio of military spy satellites in June disintegrated over Texas, according to US Space Command.
Pieces of the Long March rocket punched through the atmosphere at over 17,000mph (2735 kph) and disintegrated.
According to satellite tracking data, the fallen debris was a piece of space junk in low earth orbit before it made ‘an uncontrolled reentry’.
The debris came from a 135-foot-long Chang Zheng 2D rocket, capable of carrying about 8,000 pounds of cargo into low earth orbit, according to information from the China National Space Administration.
On June 23, the rocket called Y-64, took off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in central China and successfully deployed three spy satellites into orbit.
The spy satellites were targeted over the South China Sea, astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told USNI News.
Like most satellites after dropping off their payload, the second stage becomes space junk which can slowly circle the planet for years before plunging to Earth.
Thankfully the debris field was over the least populated counties in Texas.
While US officials are still determining if any debris has hit the ground, Chinese officials have not acknowledged the incident at the time of writing.
Last November, a massive, 21-tonne piece of Chinese space junk made an uncontrolled free fall to Earth.
Nasa accused Beijing last year of ‘failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris’ after parts of a Chinese rocket landed in the Indian Ocean.
The country’s first space station, Tiangong-1, crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 2016 after Beijing confirmed it lost control. An 18-ton rocket fell uncontrolled in May 2020.
The space debris incident follows the US shooting down a Chinese ‘spy balloon’ over the Atlantic Ocean after it crossed over sensitive military sites.
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