Space Debris Guidelines of United Nations

The Chinese rocket Long March 5B recently fell into the Indian Ocean near Maldives. The track of the falling rocket couldn’t be predicted for days. However, the European Space Agency announced that the rocket might fall anywhere between 41.5 degree north and 41.5 degrees south latitude. This put several highly populated cities at risk.

The Chinese Aircraft was the size of a ten-storey building. It was the core module for its space station.

What is NASA saying?

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of US recently lambasted (attacked) China the space craft did not abide the International standards on Space Debris and also on safety.

United Nations on Space Debris

In 2007, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space endorsed a resolution on “Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines”

Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines

  • To limit debris released during the orbital or spacecraft stages
  • To minimise the breakups during operational phases
  • To reduce the probability of accidental collisions in the orbit
  • To prevent international distraction and other harmful activities
  • To minimise the potential for post mission breakups caused due to stored energy
  • To reduce long term presence of launch vehicles, orbital stages and space crafts in the low earth orbit

What is the issue? Why is NASA criticising Chinese Actions?

The rockets carry their payload into the space. After the payload is dropped in its orbit, the booster stages of the rocket that reach the orbit fire the engine to drop the rockets back to the earth. This will prevent the rocket from remaining in the orbit and thereby reduce space debris. And also prevent them from causing potential threats to hit other rockets.

However, China chose not to do this for its Long March rocket. This led to the crashing of its rocket. Thus, NASA is criticising Chinese actions for not abiding by the international safety standards.

Also, space stations make sure such parts fall in the middle of the ocean or in uninhabited areas.

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