China's space junk falling from sky | World Defense

China's space junk falling from sky

mtime7

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Long March 3B

A Long March 3B launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
XINHUA
Space
A falling rocket booster just completely flattened a building in China
Despite how easy it is to prevent, China continues to allow launch debris to rain down on rural towns and threaten people’s safety.
by Neel V. Patel
Nov 27, 2019
Last Saturday, China launched a pair of satellites into orbit from its Xichang Satellite Launch Center. On social media, however, the main event was what happened on Earth: a booster from the launch smashed right into a building in the country’s rural south-central region. No one was injured, but videos and photos of the incident showed wreckage left in the booster’s wake, with toxic rocket fuel evaporating.

Andrew Jones@AJ_FI

https://twitter.com/AJ_FI/status/1198173691378618368

This is the aftermath downrange following a Chinese Long March 3B launch from Xichang early Saturday. And that yellow smoke is very toxic hypergolic propellant. Source: https://weibo.com/3279752321/Ihy1liV5Y?refer_flag=1001030103_ …

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It’s the latest incident in China’s long history with falling rocket partscausing destruction below. The most infamous crash occurred in 1996, when the first Long March 3B launch saw the rocket veer off course and crash into a village, killing an unknown number of people (possibly hundreds, by some Western estimates).

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“Any time you have stuff going up, there’s a possibility it’s going to come down where you don’t plan for it,” says Victoria Samson at the Secure World Foundation. “So there’s a reason why you don’t fire over populated land.” That’s why most countries launch over water.
So why doesn’t China? “This entire issue is down to geography,” says Thomas Roberts, a former aerospace security fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. All three of China’s main spaceports are located in the mainland, including the Xichang site. They all save money by flying missions east (which requires less fuel to get into space), but that route takes them over vulnerable populations.

China issues evacuation notices to communities downrange, but even if people aren’t harmed or killed by the physical impact of a crash or by direct exposure to rocket fuel (which can lead to severe organ failure or cancer), the wreckage could pollute nearby rivers and streams used for irrigation and drinking water. Launches from the Soviet Union’s old Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, built in 1955, have caused more than 2,500 tons of debris to rain down on the surrounding region, leading to health problems for thousands.
So the issue isn’t new, but the space industry is expanding rapidly. “The more launches you have, the more chances you have for something to go wrong,” says Samson.
Luckily, the solutions aren’t complicated—they just require political will. China can launch over the water if it wants, through its spaceport on the island of Hainan in the South China Sea. Operational since 2014, it’s been seldom used because of launch failures and a less developed infrastructure. But these issues are fixable with enough investment.
China could also just change its flight paths. For example, Israel’s Palmachim Airbase can’t launch to the east because of obvious geopolitical conflicts. So it sends rockets over the Mediterranean Sea and through the Strait of Gibraltar. This requires putting a satellite in a retrograde orbit—one that moves in the opposite direction of Earth’s rotation. This requires much more fuel, but it entirely avoids populated areas.
And some emerging technologies might enable rockets to fly over populated areas more safely. Grid fins (lattice structures that can slightly modify control and speed) and parafoil features (aluminum foils that work like kites or parachutes), like those SpaceX uses, could help steer falling rocket boosters to vacant lands. Roberts thinks AI could one day be used to better assess downrange risks to communities before launch. One proposal led by SpaceX calls for building a flight corridor heading south that would fly rockets over populated areas as long as they can demonstrate a perfectly functional automated abort feature.
There’s one very cheap tool that could increase pressure on China and other groups to take steps to mitigate launch debris hazards: social media. Weibo and Twitter helped make images and videos of the latest crash go viral––a massive boon to the poor, rural victims, who are rarely seen or heard.
 

UAE

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Who is going to ban China from launching satellites into space?

Space is full with junks but due to gravity they are floating there. Derbies falling means less space junk do you agree?
 

mtime7

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Who is going to ban China from launching satellites into space?

Space is full with junks but due to gravity they are floating there. Derbies falling means less space junk do you agree?
well rocket boosters where going to come down anyway, probably shouldn't have termed it space junk.
 

mtime7

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Why is China singled out then?
not sure what you mean, "singled out" are you saying that reporting on rocket boosters falling on peoples houses is somehow single out China? If a Delta Airlines plane flew over my house and dropped a big blue ice crunk through my roof, would reporting on it be single out Delta?
 
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UAE

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not sure what you mean, "singled out" are you saying that reporting on rocket boosters falling on peoples houses is somehow singling out China? If a Delta Airlines plane flew over my house and dropped a big blue ice crunk through my roof, would reporting on it be singling out Delta?
Any how many injuries have been recorded so far? The story is overly put.
 

mtime7

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Any how many injuries have been recorded so far? The story is overly put.
I don't know, and I would imagine if there was, the Chinese Government wouldn't report it. The contamination alone will cause injury far into the future.
 

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Why is the launching site close to residential areas? They should move it somewhere else safe.
 

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A Chinese rocket appears to rain rogue parts down from space
Tim Fernholz
QuartzMay 12, 2020, 12:36 PM MDT


The space debris problem is hitting home, literally.
Last week, China’s space program debuted a new rocket that expands its ability to do big projects in low-Earth orbit. The launch of the Long March 5B demonstrated a new space capsule for carrying astronauts to orbit. It also appears to have dropped a large metal object on a town in Cote d’Ivoire.

Local news sources reported that residents heard a loud bang and then discovered the rocket part. Luckily, it did not injure anyone.

Harvard-Smithsonian Institute astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, who tracks activity in orbit, noted that the path of the rocket, abandoned after it successfully delivered the capsule to orbit, would have passed over the town in question.


Typically, rocket bodies that have completed their work are discarded over the open ocean or maneuvered into long-term disposal orbits where they won’t affect people or other spacecraft. China has a spotty history with this, however, frequently dropping rocket stages in populated areas near its own launch sites.


In this case, the rocket’s design made things even more difficult. Rather than using two stages, the vehicle only has a single core and four disposable boosters. That means that the rocket body that reaches orbit and then re-enters is unusually large. Normally, the larger first stage is disposed of earlier in the mission, leaving just the smaller second stage in orbit. Chinese space engineers will likely face international pressure to adjust the rocket’s flight profile to ensure future missions don’t scatter debris over other countries—in this case, the vehicle passed over New York City less than an hour before it broke back into the atmosphere.

McDowell says this is likely the largest uncontrolled re-entry since a Soviet space station broke up 1991. When larger satellites or space stations are retired, engineers attempt to steer them to a remote section of the South Pacific called the spacecraft cemetery. Residents include the former Mir space station, numerous uncrewed supply spacecraft, and—almost—the first Chinese space station, Tiangong-1, which crashed into the Pacific a few thousand kilometers away from the aquatic boneyard.
 

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