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Friday May 07 2021
By
Reuters

No plan to shoot down Chinese rocket returning to Earth: Pentagon chief

By
Reuters

  • US military has no plans to shoot down a Chinese rocket returning to Earth this weekend, says Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin
  • The Long March 5B rocket blasted off from China’s Hainan island on April 29, carrying the Tianhe module.
  • It contains what will become living quarters for three crew members on a permanent Chinese space station


US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says there is no plan at this point to shoot down the remnants of a large Chinese rocket expected to plunge back through the atmosphere this weekend.

The Long March 5B rocket blasted off from China’s Hainan island on April 29, carrying the Tianhe module, which contains what will become living quarters for three crew members on a permanent Chinese space station.

A rocket is falling back to Earth and nobody is sure where it will land.

Read more: US President Joe Biden talks tough on China in first speech to Congress

The Tianhe launch was the first of 11 missions needed to complete the station

Speaking with reporters, Austin said the hope was the rocket would land in the ocean and that the latest estimate was that it would come down between Saturday and Sunday.

The Global Times, a Chinese tabloid published by the official People’s Daily, characterized reports that the rocket is “out of control” and could cause damage as “Western hype.” The situation is “not worth panicking about,” it said, citing industry insiders.

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The United States has said it is committed to addressing the risks of congestion due to space debris and wants to work with the international community “to promote leadership and responsible space behaviors.”