National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Bill Nelson released a statement Saturday encouraging China to act “responsibly and transparently” in space to ensure the “long-term sustainability of outer space activities.”
“Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations,” Nelson said in a statement.
“It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris,” the statement continued.
Nelson’s statement later added, “it is critical that China and all spacefaring nations and commercial entities act responsibly and transparently in space to ensure the safety, stability, security, and long-term sustainability of outer space activities”:
— Gio Benitez (@GioBenitez) May 9, 2021
The Long March 5B booster crashed back to Earth Saturday night, finally putting an end to the days-long controversial topic, Space.com reported.
U.S. Space Command released a statement in which they confirmed “the Chinese Long March 5B re-entered over the Arabian Peninsula at approximately 10:15 p.m. EDT on May 8.”
“It is unknown if the debris impacted land or water,” the statement added.
— U.S. Space Command (@US_SpaceCom) May 9, 2021
The rocket’s launch and subsequent re-entry has sparked a more in-depth talk about orbital debris and responsible spacefaring, Space.com reported.
Last week, China used a Long March-5B rocket to boost the living quarters module they plan to use for a space station into orbit.
Typically, most expendable launch vehicles are designed to fall back to Earth and land in a pre-arranged re-entry zone, which this one did not. The 23-ton body of the rocket was uncontrollably whipping around Earth in orbit until Saturday, when it crashed. At the time of the initial report, the rocket’s debris could potentially rain debris on an inhabited area.