Journal : Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Briefing Date : Author : NA Page No. : NA

Extracts from Foreign Ministry Spokesperson’s Regular Press Conference


Reuters: Just to follow up on that. Did China notify the Indian and Maldives governments in advance that the debris would fall close to them?

Hua Chunying: As I just said, China’s space authority has released information several times on the reentry of upper stage debris of the Long March-5B Y2 rocket and shared reentry forecast via international cooperation mechanisms. To date no damage by the landing debris has been reported.

I’ve seen reports that since the launch of the first man-made satellite over 60 years ago, not a single incident has occurred where a piece of debris hit someone. US experts put the chances of that at less than one in a billion. For incidents of such infinitesimal likelihood, we should trust the judgement of professional departments and personnel and leave them to handle the matter. There is really no need for media to exaggerate things and create panic.


Earlier question:


RIA Novosti: After the debris of a Chinese rocket fell into the Indian Ocean, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said that China is failing to meet responsible standard regarding the space debris. I wonder what is your comment?

Hua Chunying: The US and a few other countries have been hyping up the landing of the Chinese rocket debris over the past days. But as we’ve seen from reports, the upper stage of the rocket has reentered the atmosphere and there’s no surface damage reported.

You mentioned some comments from the NASA administrator. We’ve learned from China Manned Space Engineering Office that it is currently common practice across the world for launch vehicles of spacecraft to undergo natural orbital decay after passing orbital altitude and then eventually be ablated upon reentry into the atmosphere. On April 29 Beijing time, the Long March-5B Y2 rocket successfully sent into orbit the space station’s core module Tianhe. China has been following closely the upper stage’s reentry into the atmosphere. The upper stage of this rocket has been deactivated, which means that it will not explode in orbit and produce space debris, and most of its parts will burn up upon reentry, making the likelihood of damage to aviation or ground facilities and activities extremely low.

China monitored closely the reentry trajectory throughout the process and released a notice on the reentry in advance. We know from monitoring and analysis that the upper stage has landed in a sea area with the center at 2.65 degrees north latitude and 72.47 degrees east longitude at 10:24 a.m. on May 9. So far no damage has been reported.

In fact, the Chinese side shared its reentry forecast through international cooperation mechanisms. We always conducts activities for peaceful uses of outer space in accordance with international law and customary practice. We stand ready to have broader exchange and cooperation with other countries on the issue of space debris to ensure the long-term sustainability of space activities.

However, I would like to point out that some media and individuals in the US clearly hold double standard on this issue. You may recall that in March this year, when a piece of a SpaceX rocket crashed on a farm in the country, American media used such romantic descriptions as “lighting up the night sky like a meteor, producing a spectacular light show”. But when it comes to China, the tune is completely different. I noticed some jesting online in China, saying that US politicians may be forgetful, but the Internet has a long memory. We stand ready to strengthen cooperation with other countries including the US, but we reject double standard on this issue.

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