Just days after reports surfaced of an alleged SpaceX artifact crashed into an Australian sheep farm, another piece of space junk — this time from China — careened through the Earth's atmosphere to land in the Indian Ocean.
Over the weekend, the Chinese Manned Space Agency confirmed that parts of the country's gigantic Long March 5B carrier rocket, which was launched less than a week prior, survived their scorching trip through the atmosphere.
Bystander videos of the event captured in Malaysia depict a stunning light show as the pieces of the debris burned up during their uncontrolled descent.
Debris from Chinese rocket lit up night sky some parts of Malaysia. US space command confirm the development China's Long March 5B (CZ-5B) re-entered over the Indian Ocean at approx 10:45 am MDT on 7/30.pic.twitter.com/BIkjamFbTz
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) July 30, 2022
Watch the Sky
Though this crash was astonishing to witness, it wasn't entirely unexpected. Before the rocket was even launched, space watchers had already begun speculating — and eventually confirmed — that parts of it would end up making their uncontrolled way back down to Earth, as junk from other Long March rockets had done in the past.
Space leaders were furious at China's carelessness.
In a statement, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson chided the People's Republic for not sharing "specific trajectory information as their Long March 5B rocket fell back to Earth."
"All spacefaring nations should follow established best practices, and do their part to share this type of information in advance to allow reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk," Nelson said in the statement, adding that information-sharing is "especially" necessary for large rockets like the Long March 5B, "which carry a significant risk of loss of life and property."
Apples & Oranges
The news comes shortly after Australian sheep farmers discovered what experts suspected to be pieces of a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Though these two space junk crashes happened within weeks of each other, it's still relatively rare for larger pieces of rocket debris to survive their fall back down to Earth largely intact.
But when they do survive the trip, it usually ends up being quite a sight to behold.
READ MORE: Debris From Uncontrolled Chinese Rocket Falls Over Southeast Asian Seas [The New York Times]