MANILA – The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) has urged the public to report to authorities should they see unburned rocket debris of China’s Long March 7A launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan Island on Monday.
PhilSA said the debris is projected to fall in two drop zones.
Drop zone area 1 is 79.877 km. from Burgos, Ilocos Norte, and 121.306 km. from Dalupiri Island in Babuyan Islands while Drop zone area 2 is 41.686 km. from Sta. Ana, Cagayan, 41.37 km. from Camiguin Island in Babuyan Islands, and 47.844 kilometers from Babuyan Island.
Earlier, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines issued a notice to airmen regarding air navigation routes that might be affected, and also provided pilots with alternative routes.
In an advisory, PhilSA said unburned debris from rockets, such as the booster and faring, are designed to be discarded as the rocket enters outer space.
Although it is not projected to fall on land features or inhabited areas, it may pose danger to ships, aircraft, fishing boats, and other vessels that will pass through the drop zone, it said.
“Every time (a rocket is launched) from the Wenchang Space Launch Center, it is expected that debris would fall on Philippine coastal waters,” said Marc Talampas, PhilSA’s Space Technology Missions & Systems Bureau director, in a press briefing last year.
Usually, debris would fall on coastal waters a few minutes after a rocket launch, he added.
Talampas said in the past, fishers would find the debris after a day or several days since a rocket launch.
The debris may float around the area and wash toward nearby coasts. The possibility of an uncontrolled re-entry to the atmosphere of the rocket’s upper stages returning from outer space cannot be ruled out at this time, PhilSA added.
PhilSA researcher Paul Leonard Hilario said finding out the location of the debris is important for scientists so they could know the accuracy of the estimated drop zones.
Meanwhile, the public is warned against retrieving or coming in close contact with these materials that may contain remnants of toxic substances such as rocket fuel.
Hilario said if they accidentally touch it, they should immediately wash their hands. (PNA)