South Korea, US discuss joint responses to falling Chinese rocket debris

by BERNAMA / Pic by AFP
 
SEOUL — South Korea and the US on Friday discussed ways to jointly respond to remnants of a Chinese rocket expected to crash into Earth this weekend, the Air Force said.
 
According to Yonhap news agency, the Long March 5B rocket was launched last week carrying a module of China’s first permanent space station into orbit. 
 
But a large piece of debris is expected to plunge back in an uncontrolled re-entry on around Saturday (US time), according to the US Space Command.
 
To explore ways to jointly deal with the case, South Korea’s Air Force and the US-led Combined Space Operations Centre (CSpOC) held a video conference and shared their surveillance data and analysis.
 
The conference was also attended by military members from Germany and Japan, according to the Air Force.
 
“We cannot completely rule out the possibility of rocket pieces falling onto the Korean Peninsula,” Lt Col Choi Seong Hwan of the Korea Space Operations Centre said.
 
“We maintain a staunch readiness by maximising our space surveillance capabilities and working closely with the CSpOC and other related agencies to be fully prepared for any scenarios,” he added.
 
The US command said that the rocket’s exact point of descent could not be pinpointed “until within hours of its re-entry.” 
 
Experts said debris would fall into the sea, but they might reach populated areas.