“Space nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth from re-entering space objects and maximize transparency regarding these operations,” said Nelson, former senator and astronaut.
“It is essential that China and all space nations and business entities act responsibly and transparently in space to ensure the long-term safety, stability, security and sustainability of space activities.”
While the debris was more likely to land on water – which covers most of the Earth’s surface – it could have landed anywhere as far north as Beijing, Madrid, and New York, and as far south as southern Chile and Wellington in New Zealand. .
“An ocean re-entry was always statistically the most likely,” Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell said on Twitter. “It seems that China won its bet … But it was still reckless.”
He said it was the fourth largest joint rogue re-entry on record.
Most countries have tried to design their spacecraft to avoid runaway re-entry since large pieces of NASA’s Skylab space station fell out of orbit and landed in Australia in 1979.
“It makes Chinese rocket designers lazy that they haven’t addressed this,” McDowell told Reuters.