China today launched its Long March 7A rocket from its coastal Wenchang spaceport, successfully placing a communications satellite into orbit.
The coastal launch site meant that the rocket’s lower stages would not fall on China’s interior. Instead, it appears the drop zones were located in the Philippines.
The [Philippines Space] agency said it was able to verify the estimated drop zones of the rocket debris from a notice by the Civil Aviation Administration of China. “Two drop zones within the Philippine territory have been identified based on the NOTAM: Drop zone 1 is approximately 71 kilometers from Burgos, Ilocos Norte, while drop zone 2 is approximately 52 kilometers away from Sta. Ana, Cagayan,” PhilSA said in an advisory.
No word on whether this debris caused any damage. Regardless, China is continuing its policy, in violation of the Outer Space Treaty, of recklessly dumping rocket stages on others.
The leaders in the 2022 launch race:
6 Rocket Lab
American private enterprise still leads China 56 to 37 in the national rankings, but is now tied with the entire world combined 56 to 56. This tie will likely not be long-lived. Though Firefly’s launch has been delayed until next week, SpaceX and Rocket Lab have launches scheduled for today and tomorrow, respectively.
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