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China rocket debris falls in Indian Ocean near Maldives

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

China rocket debris falls in Indian Ocean near Maldives:


Context:

Debris from the last stage of China’s Long March rocket that had last month carried a key component of its under-construction space station fell into the waters of the Indian Ocean west of the Maldives recently.

Key facts:

  • The Long March-5B Y2 rocket was carrying the Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, module, which is the first of three key components for the construction of China’s space station, which will be completed by the end of next year.
  • Tianhe will act “the management and control hub of the space station” which is called Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace.
  • The space station, which will be only the second after the International Space Station (ISS), has been designed with a lifespan of 10 years but could last 15 years, or until 2037.

Concerns and issues:

  • The re-entry of the rocket, described by astrophysicists as the fourth-largest uncontrolled reentry in history, had evoked concerns in recent days about possible damage should it have fallen on land.
  • It had been criticised by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the U.S. for “failing to meet responsible standards”.
  • Few expected the debris to harm humans, mainly due to most of it burning up in the atmosphere, as well as the fact that large parts of the Earth are covered by oceans and massive land areas lie uninhabited.

Need of the hour:

“Spacefaring nations” should “minimise the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximise transparency regarding those operations.

Sources: the Hindu.

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