SEOUL, South Korea – Indian authorities are examining several pieces of suspected space debris that crashed into rural western India on May 12, with the timing of the incident suggesting they could be parts of a Chinese rocket that re-entered the atmosphere that year. day.
local media reported that the objects collided with “strong blows that shook the ground” in Gujarat. There were no casualties or material damage, according to the indian express. The fallen objects were all discovered within a 15 kilometer radius, and among them was a black metal ball weighing about five kilograms, the paper said.
Neither local authorities nor the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) have positively identified the objects.
However, space observer Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics says the wreckage is likely part of the third stage of a Chinese Long March 3B rocket that re-entered the atmosphere on May 12. . “We know the CZ-3B Y86 came back that morning,” McDowell said. SpaceNews via email on May 16, referring to the Chinese rocket’s Spacetrack catalog name. “We don’t know for sure where, but its projected trail crosses Gujarat at the right time, so it’s a good candidate, and there were no other large objects that re-entered that morning. Therefore, I conclude that the identification of this debris with CZ-3B Y86 is very strong (high confidence, although not 100% conclusive).”
The final orbital parameters of CZ-3C Y86 are somewhat uncertain due to its highly elliptical orbit with very low perigee (100 km or more) changing rapidly due to drag. But it looks like a fair match for re-entry over Gujarat at 1115 UTC on 12 May, from which debris was found on the ground.
— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) May 12, 2022
If the suspected wreckage is confirmed as part of a Chinese rocket, it would be the second time in less than two months that the wreckage from the Chinese launch has landed on Indian territory.
On April 2, India saw several objects, including a large metal ring, fell into another western rural village. ISRO scientists who conducted an investigation at the site on April 15 provisionally labeled the objects as parts of a Chinese Long March rocket. Based on photos and videos of the objects, McDowell said the dropped objects could be part of the third stage of Long March 3B serial number Y77, released in February 2021. China remained silent about the reentry incident.
In addition, there have been several other cases in recent years where a Chinese rocket made a worrying re-entry.
Inside May 2021, the remains of the roughly 30-meter-long and five-meter-wide central stage of China’s Long March 5B rocket crashed into the Indian Ocean after days of speculation — and China’s silence — about where the debris would land. NASA criticized China for “failing to meet responsible standards regarding its space debris.”
a year beforethe wreckage of another Long March 5B crashed into at least two villages in Ivory Coast, following an uncontrolled re-entry of the rocket’s central stage.
Inside november 2019a worn-out stage of Long March 3B crashed near the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China, destroying a house.