A piece of Chinese space junk that reentered the Earth’s atmosphere last week disintegrated over Texas, according to reports.
U.S. Naval Institute News reported that a second-stage booster from a Chinese rocket that launched on June 23, 2022, and placed three military surveillance satellites into orbit burned up over the Lone Star State on March 8.
A Long March-5B Y4 rocket takes off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Wenchang, Hainan province, China, on Oct. 31, 2022. (China Daily via Reuters)
The missile was a Long March rocket, and its four-ton component that was floating in orbit reentered the atmosphere at 17,000 mph before disintegrating, defense officials told the publication.
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The space junk, as NORAD described it, was in a low orbit before making its descent back to Earth, and military officials said the debris field could stretch for hundreds of miles.
U.S. Space Command confirmed with USNI that the People’s Republic of China CZ-2D Rocket Body reentered the Earth’s atmosphere over the southern region of the continent at about 8:30 p.m. MST.
“This was an uncontrolled entry, meaning it was not steered, rather its orbit decayed and lowered naturally,” U.S. Space Command said. “This type of behavior reinforces the need for better international norms regarding high-risk controlled reentries.”
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U.S. Space Command and the China Manned Space Agency did not immediately respond to questions from Fox News Digital about the rocket booster’s reentry over North America.
China has been criticized in the past over uncontrolled reentries. In November, NASA blasted China for taking unnecessary risks with the uncontrolled rocket stage reentry of a Long March 5 rocket, saying the country does not share specific trajectory information needed to predict landing zones and reduce risk.
China has had at least five uncontrolled entries of its space equipment since May 2020.
Texas has a population of 29 million people, including several major cities that include Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth and El Paso. The Chinese rocket burned up over an unpopulated area.