China missile debris found in Indonesia and Malaysia

China missile debris found in Indonesia and Malaysia

China recently launched the second module of its new space station with a heavy Changzheng-5B rocket from the Wenchang launch site, and we knew that the first stage of the launch vehicle would not burn completely in the atmosphere; some debris that fell to the ground this weekend was found in South-East Asia.

The twenty-five-ton central stage of the Changzhen-5B rocket fell out of control on Saturday, July 30, and most of the launch vehicle burned, but much of it.

No casualties or damage have yet been reported, but according to Astrophysicist Jonathan McDawell of the Harvard-Smitzonian Astrophysics Center, some debris was found within a few hundred metres of the villages, and video recordings of the decaying launch vehicle began to appear shortly after midnight local time.

Practically no reentry control

The Chanjeng-5B launch vehicle was launched on 24 July to deliver a second module, 17.9 m long, of the new Chinese space station called Tiangun. The central stage of the rocket reached orbit and dropped over the next six days. Usually, the first stages of heavy missiles retain a certain amount of fuel to guide their trajectory. So engineers can "select" a suitable crash site, usually in the ocean. China's heavy missiles, on the other hand, do not retain fuel. This makes the crash zone much more difficult to predict.

This is the third time that China's Changzheng-5B rocket has made uncontrollable entry into the atmosphere. The previous two were in 2020 and 2021. The main stages were on the west coast of Africa and the Indian Ocean respectively.

China plans to launch another such missile in October to deliver the third and last module of its station, although the launch vehicle has not changed, it will again have no launch engine.