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S. Korea, U.S. discuss joint responses to falling Chinese rocket debris

Diplomacy 10:36 May 07, 2021

SEOUL, May 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States on Friday discussed ways to jointly respond to remnants of a Chinese rocket expected to crash into Earth this weekend, the Air Force said.

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 reentry on around Saturday (U.S. time), according to the U.S. Space Command.

To explore ways to jointly deal with the case, South Korea's Air Force and the U.S.-led Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC) held a videoconference 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 Center said.

"We maintain a staunch readiness by maximizing our space surveillance capabilities and working closely with the CSpOC and other related agencies to be fully prepared for any scenarios," he added.

The U.S. command said that the rocket's exact point of descent cannot be pinpointed "until within hours of its reentry." Experts said debris would fall into the sea but they might reach populated areas.

Members of the Korea Space Operations Center hold a videoconference with officials of the U.S.-led Combined Space Operations Center on May 7, 2021, to discuss falling debris from a Chinese space rocket, in this photo provided by South Korea's Air Force. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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