By Froi Garces
PHILIPPINE authorities have recovered yet another metallic debris believed to be part of a Chinese rocket which recently launched into space.
Why it matters? The United States’ NASA has accused China of failing to control the descent of spent rockets to Earth. Such large swath of returning debris could have hit a population such as the Philippines.
This is the fourth time that a suspected portion of the Long March 5b rocket was retrieved off the country’s waters after its launch from China last October 31.
Who discovered the rocket debris? The Philippine Coast Guard with the help of local fishermen made the discovery Friday in Subic, Zambales province.
The PCG said in a report that a local boat captain named David Gervacio informed its personnel about a white cylindrical shaped object found floating 55 miles West off Subic waters.
A PCG team from Zambales was quickly sent to help Gervacio’s crew retrieve the debris which was made from metal and plastic parts and measures two-meters long and four-meters wide.
What are the past similar incidents? The rocket debris found off Subic was similar to rocket debris found in Palawan and Occidental Mindoro provinces in November. Officials believe they were also part of the Long March 5B rocket that China launched on October 31 from Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan Province.
The rocket, which crashed in an unknown location, was carrying the Mengtian laboratory module for the Tiangong space station, a research facility being built by China in outer space.
Another debris was also recovered near Pag-asa Island in November 20, but Chinese coast guard forcibly took them from Philippine Navy personnel who first found the broken rocket part.
The incident sparked anger among senators, who are now calling for a Senate inquiry.
The PCG said Gervacio also spotted a similar floating object on November 16 about 38 nautical miles off Bajo de Masinloc but was unable to retrieve it due to its sheer size and weight.
The PCG earlier have issued warnings about floating debris at sea that may pose as navigational hazard. As such, it encourages the public to assist in identifying and recovering objects found within the country’s local waters.