Debris near Mindoro ‘highly likely’ from Chinese rocket — PH Space Agency
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) said on Wednesday that there is a “high likelihood” that the debris found in the waters off Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro is from a Chinese Long March 5B rocket.
PhilSA in a statement said that based on where the debris was found, it could be part of the rocket fairing of a Long March 5B rocket that made an uncontrolled reentry in early November.
The country’s space agency previously notified the public about two possible drop zones for unburned debris from the Chinese rocket — drop zone one is around 72 kilometers from Bajo de Masinloc while drop zone two was approximated to be 39 kilometers from Busuanga, Palawan.
“Based on the proximity from the drop zone and the visual perusal of photos released by Palawan authorities to the public on 08 November, there is a high likelihood that the debris found in Busuanga was part of the rocket fairing of Long March 5B,” PhilSA said.
“In addition, it is highly likely that the pieces of debris reportedly found off the waters of Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro on 07 and 08 November were also part of the said rocket component,” it added.
On Monday, wreckage from a rocket carrying payload to China’s Tiangong Space Station was found in waters near Palawan’s Busuanga Island. The debris showed indications that it was part of the Chinese rocket — it was a silver and white sheet of slightly curved metal, while the other sheet has an image similar to the design of China’s flag.
Prior to the discovery of the debris, China’s Civil Aviation Administration issued a global advisory saying that “expected unburned debris” was due to drop to Earth after its Long March 5B rocket, which was launched October 31, transported a module to their space station.
Earlier, Occidental Mindoro fisherfolk found another piece of debris bearing Chinese characters, believed to be a part of the Long March 5B rocket.
PhilSA said it would be holding the debris in custody, advising people who may stumble upon fragments of the rocket to immediately inform authorities and avoid touching the debris.
“The debris will be in the custody and disposal of the Philippine Government. As of this time, PhilSA has not received reports of debris sighted near drop zone 1,” PhilSA said.
“PhilSA advises the public to immediately inform local authorities if suspected debris is sighted, and cautions everyone against retrieving or coming in close contact with these materials,” it added.
While space debris most often are designed to land on water to minimize hazards, PhilSA admitted in previous reports that it still poses a danger to aircraft, boats, and ships in the vicinity.
After China announced that the rocket, which weighed 20 tons, was going back to Earth uncontrolled, Spain closed its airspace to avoid possible damage to commercial aircraft.