A meteorite… no, space debris

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In a statement posted on the official WeChat profile of the Chinese manned space agency, the agency said most of the rocket’s electronics were detached from the body and destroyed during re-entry.

Hanif later corrected himself, saying it was a Long March missile, referring to how an “explosion” was heard in Kuching that night.

“One or more chunks are unlikely to reach a populated area, but not impossible,” he tweeted. A Long March 5B rocket launched on July 24 with a mission to deliver an experimental module to China’s new space station under construction.

According to Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist and satellite tracker at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, “Videos from Kuching imply that Kuching was high in the atmosphere, and that any debris was there. It suggests a possible landing near Sibu, Bintulu, or Brunei, hundreds of kilometers away along the route.

Story Highlights

  • Debris from his 22.5-ton core stage of the Long March 5B rocket began re-entering Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean around 12:45 am yesterday, according to the US space agency NASA.

  • This dramatic spectacle, called ‘Meteorite’, was seen from Bintulu, Sibu and Kuching. The ad was also caught on video and shared on social media. “Meteor spotted in Kuching! #jalanbako 31 July 2022,” said Nazri Sulaiman (@nazriacai) on Twitter. However, he later corrected himself and said that it was the wreckage of a rocket.

The Malaysian Space Agency (Mysa) previously said it was unlikely that rocket wreckage would land in Malaysia. This is because it is expected to dissipate once it enters Earth’s atmosphere, and it warns against panic and spread of misinformation about this event.