back to article Chinese rocket plunges into Indian Ocean, still lands sharp rebuke from NASA

Bits of China's Long March 5B rocket have returned to Earth without inconveniencing anyone, but did irritate NASA enough for the agency to issue a sternly-worded statement. Bits of the bird landed in the Indian Ocean at 10:24 AM Sunday Beijing time, missing the Maldivian island of Kudahuvadhoo by about 45 kilometers. The …

  1. redpawn Silver badge

    Perhaps,

    It is to lay the ground work, so to speak, for better targeted accidents. It couldn't just be irresponsibility on China's part, that would be too embarrassing for a such a superpower.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps,

      The insurance claims would certainly be interesting.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Perhaps,

        or the West Australian littering fines

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps,

      Maybe I'm becoming a cynical cow in my dotage, but when it comes to government initiatives of any nation, irresponsibility and incompetence are the first two things I expect.

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Perhaps,

        Which country's government's the biggest performer in that regard? Probably South Africa...

    3. nematoad Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Perhaps,

      " It couldn't just be irresponsibility on China's part,..."

      Why not? They routinely drop bits of spent rockets on their own soil so why would they worry about dumping something on the rest of the world?

      See here

      and here

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Perhaps,

        Indeed, I think a lot of this is just a fundamentally different cultural attitude towards risk/reward. China just sees 70% chance of landing in water is good enough that they don't need to do anything further, given the important goals of furthering China's prowess as a space-faring nation.

        Fundamentally this comes down to the different views cultures have on "individual liberty" vs "societal benefit". China is very much towards society, and the chance that an individual loses something for such a huge benefit to Chinese society is acceptable. America views individual liberty much more highly, the chances that an individual loses something because someone else was pursuing their goals is not acceptable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Perhaps,

          the chances that an individual loses something because someone else was pursuing their goals is not acceptable

          Except when someone else is a politician/big corporation. Or the government with the war on drugs/terrorism/child abuse. How do you like your freedom now, US?

        2. Magani
          Unhappy

          Re: Perhaps,

          "Fundamentally this comes down to the different views cultures have on "individual liberty" vs "societal benefit"."

          So, Long March booster - 70%

          SinoVac efficacy ~50%

          It's not just the rest of the world it doesn't give a stuff about.

          1. druck Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Perhaps,

            I'm reminded of when a Long March 2 went a bit sideways at Xichang

            https://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/disaster-at-xichang-2873673/

      2. DanceMan

        Re: Perhaps,

        "bits of spent rockets" landing in China

        Surprised the debris wasn't arrested and charged with spying.

    4. fredesmite2

      Re: layoff the Alex Jones crap

      There was never a grassy knoll shooter either

  2. Shadow Systems

    I love watching heavenly bodies...

    ...and sometimes even outer space! =-D

    *Runs away before someone hits me with some reentering debris*

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: I love watching heavenly bodies...

      I believe it was Arthur C Clarke who remarked on the distracting effect the female form might have on our male co-workers in zero gravity.

      "It was bad enough when they were motionless; but when they started to move, and sympathetic vibrations set in, it was more than any warm-blooded male should be asked to take."

      But we've come along way since the space age. Or then again ...

      1. RobThBay

        Re: I love watching heavenly bodies...

        You're right. It was from one of his books, but I don't remember which one.

        1. davcefai

          Re: I love watching heavenly bodies...

          Rendevous with Rama.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I love watching heavenly bodies...

            oooh whose Rama?

            one of Kirk's exes?

            1. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: I love watching heavenly bodies...

              "one of Kirk's exes?"

              Is there any left that aren't?

  3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
    Coat

    Holidays

    What with rising sea levels & people chucking scrap metal at them, I really should visit the Maldives before it's too late!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Holidays

      That's the solution, we keep burning enough coal and the Indian ocean becomes a safe place to drop rockets

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Holidays

        "we keep burning enough coal and India becomes a safe place to drop rockets"

        FTFY

  4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Party Time

    at Kudahuvadhoo.

    Kud-ahuv-a-dhoo

    1. slimshady76
      Joke

      Re: Party Time

      I imagine the locals started shouting the island's name the minute they realized the rocket missed them "by this much" as Maxwell Smart would say...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Party Time

      > Kud-ahuv-a-dhoo

      Agadoo doo doo, push pineapple, shake the tree

      Agadoo doo doo, come see rocket re-entry

  5. Real Ale is Best
    Black Helicopters

    The easiest way to stop China dropping space junk on other countries is to launch "covert CIA operations" to recover all the pieces.

    It would not be long before China modify their rockets to only land in Chinese controlled teritory.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      I do like the idea of Chinese Space Junk... Makes me think of something like this and this.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        I'm not fat, it's just Chinese Space Junk

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      No need to be "covert" - make it very public

      Not that China has been very public when it came to inspecting downed technology from the "other side"...

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14527170

    3. DanceMan

      Chinese controlled teritory

      Currently being expanded to include all the seas and Taiwan.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Chinese controlled teritory

        Not forgetting wherever Belt and Road InitiativeInfluence has been applied

  6. TheProf Silver badge
    Meh

    Skylab

    That one went well for NASA.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Skylab

      That was not intended. If the space shuttle program had met its original goals, Skylab was to have been boosted up & out.

      1. TheProf Silver badge

        Re: Skylab

        Oh that's ok then. I don't mind being accidentally crushed to death. It just when it's intentional I get a bit uppety about it.

        I bet the Chinese were hoping for a last-minute breakthrough in tractor beam technology.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: Skylab

          Okay Pooh.

  7. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Headmaster

    de rigeur => de rigueur

  8. Flywheel Silver badge
    FAIL

    NASA .. a sternly-worded statement

    Ah, that'll be taken as seriously as the WHO's various statements on SARS, Coronvirus etc.

    China doesn't give a stuff, and I'm just wondering what they have in store for their "best of 3"...

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: NASA .. a sternly-worded statement

      Think they'll plan a launch so as to pollute the USA part with geosynchronous space junk?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Double standards?

    I must have missed the rebuke to Space X for last month's uncontrolled reentry that dropped Falcon 9 debris on Washington state.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: Double standards?

      The difference is that was a planned re-entry, with a defined entry window and with little chance of causing damage due to the size and direction of the spent stage. The Chinese rocket was just left to fall where it would, without care or consideration for it's impact.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Double standards?

        Umm.. you're saying Space X *intentionally* dropped debris on an inhabited area?

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Double standards?

          Umm.. you're saying Space X *intentionally* dropped debris on an inhabited area?

          It missed Seattle, so probably wasn't aimed at Jeff..

        2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: Double standards?

          I'm saying there's a clear difference between a spent stage that goes slightly off course during a planned de-orbit and a spent stage that is abandoned to fall in some random spot. It's the difference between aiming your rubbish at the bin and having a bit escape, and throwing your rubbish out of a high speed car.

        3. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: Double standards?

          First person view: it looked like everything burned up before it hit. No *debris* of any kind.

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Double standards?

      They didn't need to nail them to the cross of public shame because SpaceXs upper stage is supposed to stay under control until reentry (and has on many occasions). They're in the process of investigating and fixing what went wrong so it doesn't happen again. SpaceX has also already said "sorry, we try to not let it happen again", while China is pretending nothing happened, "what are we all on about?" and ohh look at the pretty stars up there.

  10. John Sturdy
    Mushroom

    Relieved

    I had been wondering whether "out of control" was going to end with "Oh dear, it's accidentally landed in the middle of Urumqi."

    Glad noone was hurt.

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Relieved

      "Those knowledgeable about re-entries, like astronomer Jonathan McDowell, tried to soothe the public with graphs proving a worst case land crash damage would be comparable to a small plane crash."

      All very reassuring unless you happen to be under said light-plane crash when it comes down. At that point all bets are off. It may have been a small risk but it is still a risk. They were lucky that the 70% chance of falling into water occurred.

      I get annoyed by these experts when they start spouting this sort of thing because it is trivialising something that is:

      Avoidable

      Can have serious consequences for those unlucky enough to be hit by it.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Relieved

        I dont think astronomer Jonathan McDowell was trying legitimise the idea of letting space junk fall randomly , he was assuring people that this wouldnt be a tsunami inducing extinction event when it lands, which no doubt a large number of people were thinking.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Relieved

          Judging by the coverage on CNN, there was a definite lean towards "the sky is falling" in the US media.

  11. Elledan Silver badge

    Chinese secrecy working against PR

    In Scott Manley's video on the topic, he mentioned that it's been speculated that the intention with this LM-5B launch was to do a controlled deorbit. As China has shown with their one controlled deorbit of their space station, it's certainly not something which they cannot do or have no interest in.

    It's quite possible that the LM-5B in question had the necessary equipment to do a controlled deorbit, but that it didn't work. We'll never know, however, as the Chinese state space program (including Long March) is highly secretive. Maybe with upcoming launches we'll be able to tell what their intent there is.

    1. Getmo

      Re: Chinese secrecy working against PR

      I've seen that video as well. The only indication we've been given is, some Chinese viewers who watched the launch stream posted translations showing they heard one of the launch control operators make a call-out for a de-orbit maneuver to happen later, after the launch sequence.

      The problem with this is, the PRC has been known to lie to their own people as well. It's entirely possible they just told their teams "We're going to de-orbit the booster later, it's a separate team you've never met before, do not worry comrade."

      But from what I've gathered from Chinese culture, they are also against admitting failure, some kind of family/honor damage. So it could ALSO be possible that, in China's mind, even if they actually had the hardware in place and it failed, they think it's much better to just pretend like it never existed and the entire mission went to plan with 100% success. Somehow, in their minds that could be better than just coming out and telling the rest of the world "We were already trying to do that, but that part failed."

  12. TRT Silver badge

    The Maldivian island

    of Kudawudashuda?

  13. Martin Summers Silver badge

    Imagine being an unlucky bastard out at sea on your boat and getting hit by a great hulk like that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That popping sound? Whale blubber instantly ignited and spread over a radius of one kilometer.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        You sure it wasn't a bowl of Petunias, who's last thought before impact was "Oh no, not again!"

  14. heyrick Silver badge

    discuss how to create a framework for rules-based order in space

    The problem here is the same as the problem on the surface. Somebody needs to be "in charge" in order to have the authority to make decisions and enforce them. If somebody else refuses to accept the legitimacy of this, then, all bets are off.

    What's the betting America is going to come up with a framework where America is in charge?

    Let's appoint somebody who doesn't have an angle in this, like, oh I dunno, Iceland. There you go. Iceland can run space, and neither America nor China nor Russia get to call the shots...

    1. Mark Exclamation Bronze badge

      Re: discuss how to create a framework for rules-based order in space

      Or you could just do what China does: ignores the whole of the rest of the world and just does whatever it wants.

  15. wolfetone Silver badge

    Don't worry China

    NASA still owes Australia a few quid for Skylab.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Don't worry China

      But that's different, we care deeply about the people of the Maldives

    2. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Don't worry China

      No they don't. It was settled.

    3. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      For the record

      We tried to boost Skylab. That was supposed to be one of (if not the) first missions of the Space Shuttle. But, you know...schedules slipped...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who will think of the whales! Or at least the small fry. And certainly a abundance of plankton.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The world being a mysterious place, what are the odds that Long March 5B just pinpointed the final resting place of MA370?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      It was drawn there by the Power of "The Ancient Crystals of Atlantis (Pacific Colony)"

  18. fredesmite2

    NASA LOST 2 OUT OF 6 SPACE SHUTTLES

    I don't think their opinion really matters anymore

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: NASA LOST 2 OUT OF 6 SPACE SHUTTLES

      But mostly over their own territory

      although would have been ironic if they had hit Diego Garcia

    2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: NASA LOST 2 OUT OF 6 SPACE SHUTTLES

      Tell Pooh I said "Hi!"

  19. fredesmite2
    Mushroom

    CHINA DOESN'T CARE

    THEY DON'T NEED ANY STINKIN BADGES EITHER

  20. Scott Broukell

    Playing the long game (march)

    Just send another couple of hundred missions up, get them all to land in the same spot and voila! you've built a brand new bit of China up from the sea floor!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Playing the long game (march)

      I think that's Iceland's plan to take over the world - or at least the Atlantic

      1. Scott Broukell

        Re: Playing the long game (march)

        I sea what you did there!

  21. rcxb Silver badge

    Landing in water?

    no one could predict its exact destination, other than a 70 percent chance it would be in water

    Thank goodness it didn't target my teacup while I was holding it.

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