The Chinese Long March 5B rocket launched on July 24, bringing the second module (Wentian) to the Tiangong space station. The module provided facilities that allowed the astronauts to perform scientific experiments, as well as three additional sleeping areas, and an extra airlock for spacewalks.
Reentry from Kuching in Sarawak, Malaysia, appears to have been detected. Debris might land downrange in northern Borneo, possibly Brunei. [corrected] https://t.co/sX6m1XMYoO
The Long March 5B core booster disconnected from the rocket when it reached space, leaving many concerned about where the 100-foot-long, 22-ton object would land.
The Long March 5B rocket re-enttered the atmosphere on Saturday at 12:45 PM ET, according to China, and that most of the debris was found over the Philippines and Malaysia's Sulu Sea.
People in several parts of Malaysia saw the rocket fragments and recorded videos of them falling to Earth. Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said the debris would be located near Sibu, Bintulu, or Brunei, cities along Borneo's northern coast.
After an unidentified black object thought to be a part of the rocket, two families in Batu Niah, Sarawak, were ordered to evacuate their homes due to radioactivity hazards.
Bill Nelson, the NASA Administrator, blasts China for failing to disclose more about what might have been a potentially fatal incident. "All spacefaring nations should follow established best practices and provide reliable information in advance to help anticipate potential debris impact risk, especially heavy-lift vehicles such as the Long March 5B, which carry a significant risk of death and property."
The same thing happened in 2020, ten days after launch, when debris landed on the Ivory Coast. There was also the second flight last year, parts of which landed in the Indian Ocean.
The Long March 5B rocket will deliver the third and final Tiangong module in October. While some believe China will reduce or eliminate uncontrolled reentries, the rocket will also be used to launch a telescope to space in 2023, so expect at least two more incidents in the future.