The upper stage of the Long March 6A rocket broke into hundreds of pieces in mid-November after putting the satellite into orbit..
Part of the rocket that carried the Yunhai 3 satellite last month has now become a cloud of 350 fragments. Long March Rocket 6A Launched from Taiyuan, northern China, on November 11, successfully placing the Yunhai 3 environmental monitoring satellite into its intended orbit.
Long March 6A rocket before its launch on November 11.
Long March 6A rocket before launch on November 11. (Photo: NotreSpace)
However, the rocket’s upper stage broke apart shortly after. On November 12, the US Air Force’s 18th Space Defense Squadron (18 SDS) reported that this unit was tracking at least 50 separate fragments of the rocket body. Continuous tracking data from 18 DSS shows that currently, the debris cloud related to the rocket’s upper stage has increased to 350 pieces.
The process of rocket stage rupture is not uncommon. To date, the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office in Darmstadt, Germany, has recorded more than 630 ruptures, explosions, collisions or unusual events in orbit that created debris. Collisions with space debris or micrometeorites could result in the production of more debris. Many spacecraft operators take steps to avoid such explosions, such as emptying remaining propellant fuel from the tank and removing the battery.
Astrophysicist and satellite tracking expert Jonathan McDowell said the distribution of debris from the Long March 6A rocket showed it was a powerful explosion. He said over time, it’s possible that the propellant extraction process will fail and the remaining fuel will explode. China’s Foreign Ministry said what happened did not affect the Thien Cung space station or the International Space Station (ISS).
Most of the debris from the Long March 6A rocket is at an altitude of 800 to 1,000 km. They will take time to fall back into the atmosphere. The ISS station rotates at an average altitude of 420 km above Earth while the Thien Cung station flies a little lower.
Article source: VnExpress
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The upper stage of the Long March 6A rocket broke into hundreds of pieces in mid-November after putting the satellite into orbit. Part of the rocket carrying the Yunhai satellite…