Metal disk 'from rocket launched by China' crashes in Indian village

10ft metal disk ‘from rocket launched into space by China a year ago’ crashes down in Indian village

  • A metal ring that fell from the sky may be from Chinese rocket launched last year
  • 10ft disk, which weighed 90lbs, was found in rural western India at the weekend
  • There were no reports of injuries or structural damage but it’ll undergo analysis
  • Expert said the ring was consistent with a piece of China’s Long March 3B rocket

A large piece of space debris that crashed down in rural India over the weekend may be from a Chinese rocket that was launched last year, experts believe.

The metal ring – reportedly 6.5-10 feet (2 to 3 metres) in diameter and weighing over 90lb (40kg) – was discovered in a village field in Maharashtra state late on Saturday.

There were no reports of injuries or structural damage. 

‘We were preparing a community feast, when the sky blazed with the red disc which fell with a bang on an open plot in the village,’ an unnamed woman in Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district told The Times of India.

‘People ran to their home fearing (an) explosion and remained inside for nearly half an hour.’

Another object – a large, metal ball around half a metre (1.5 feet) in diameter – fell in another village in the district, district collector Ajay Gulhane told the Press Trust of India. 

A large piece of space debris (pictured) that crashed down in rural India over the weekend may be from a Chinese rocket that was launched last year, experts believe

The metal ring – reportedly 6.5-10 feet (2 to 3 metres) in diameter and weighing over 90lb (40kg) – was discovered in a village field in Maharashtra state late on Saturday

He added: ‘It has been collected for examination. We had sent (junior officials) to every village in the district to find if more parts of objects, if any, are lying scattered.’ 

An Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) official told the Times that the timing of the objects’ arrival was the ‘closest match’ to the re-entry times on Saturday for debris from a Chinese rocket launched in February 2021.

‘When rocket bodies survive atmospheric re-entry, the rocket parts such as nozzles, rings and tanks can impact on Earth,’ another ISRO official said.

Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted that the ring was consistent with a piece of China’s Long March 3B rocket.

Objects generate immense amounts of heat and friction when they enter the atmosphere, which can cause them to burn up and disintegrate, but larger ones may not be destroyed entirely.

Their wreckage can land on the surface of the planet and may cause damage and casualties, though that risk is low.

Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted that the ring was consistent with a piece of China’s Long March 3B rocket (pictured) 

McDowell said the ring was ‘consistent with being part of the CZ-3B third stage tankage’

In 2020, debris from another Chinese Long March rocket fell on villages in the Ivory Coast, causing structural damage but no injuries or deaths.

The latest incident comes a month after a discarded rocket that was believed to belong to China crashed into the moon’s far side. 

The three-tonne piece of space junk is believed to have left a massive crater in the lunar surface on March 4. 

Astronomers first thought the rocket part had been launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX in 2015, before changing their mind and saying it was Chinese, something Beijing denied. 

It was the first time that a piece of space junk had accidentally struck the lunar surface.

SPACE DEBRIS FROM A RUSSIAN ANTI-SATELLITE MISSILE TEST CAME WITHIN 47 FEET OF KNOCKING OUT CHINA’S TSINGHUA SCIENCE SATELLITE IN JANUARY 2022, BEIJING SAID

Space debris from a Russian anti-satellite missile test came within 47 feet (14.5 metres) of knocking out China’s Tsinghua science satellite this week, Beijing said in January. 

The near-miss between Tsinghua and the piece of debris, called 49863, occurred at 02:49 GMT on January 18, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said, based on tracking data.

The two objects passed each other at a relative speed of more than 11,700 miles per hour, according to CNSA. 

Russia’s debris came from its 4,410-pound Cosmos 1408 satellite, which the country obliterated in November during its ‘anti-satellite missile test’.

Cosmos 1408 launched in 1982 and was deliberately destroyed by the Russians because it was no longer operational.  

Tsinghua is China’s university-built research payload, launched into orbit in August 2020 aboard a Long March 2D rocket.

Read more: Russian space debris came within 47ft of knocking out China satellite 

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