The Pentagon chief, Lloyd Austin, on Thursday vowed not to plan to destroy the China rocket, citing uncontrolled re-entry into the atmosphere this weekend, criticizing Beijing for losing control over it.
“According to the latest estimates I have seen, this is likely to take place on May 8 or 9,” the US Secretary of Defense said at a news conference.
“At this point, we have no plans to destroy the rocket,” he added. “We hope she falls somewhere, where she will not harm anyone, at sea or anywhere like that, we hope.”
China launched the first of three of its space station ‘CSS’ last week with the Long March 5B rocket. The body of this rocket is going to land in the next few days and no one knows where it is.
After the space module disassembled, the launcher began to orbit the planet in an irregular trajectory, slowly losing altitude, predicting anything about the point of entry into the atmosphere and therefore its fall point was almost impossible.
It is likely to decay when it enters the atmosphere, causing only a limited amount of debris to crash. And if it were left as a whole, the planet would be 70% water, with a good chance of damaging the rocket in the ocean, but certainly without. It can crash into a populated area or ship.
Without naming Chinese officials, Austin indicated that the China rocket launch was not adequately planned.
“This is a testament to the fact that for those of us who work in space, it is our responsibility to act safely and thoughtfully and to consider all of this when planning activities – or to be a testament to that,” he added.
This is not the first time China has lost control of its spacecraft since returning to Earth. In April 2018, the Tiangong-1 space laboratory crashed with a re-entry into space, two years after it ceased operations. Chinese officials have denied that the lab escaped control.