Chinese Military Spy Satellite Rocket Breaks Up Over Texas
USNI News learned Wednesday that the second stage of a Chinese rocket carrying a trio military surveillance satellites into space in June, disintegrated above Texas.
Two defense officials confirmed that the four-ton Chang Zheng 2D Long March rocket’s four-ton component pounded through the atmosphere Wednesday at 17,000 mph and eventually disintegrated.
U.S. military officials are yet to discover any debris from the rocket launch stage. USNI News believes that the debris field could measure miles in width and be several hundred miles in length.
The stage was found to have been a piece space junk in low earth orbit prior to its scheduled descent, according the North American Aerospace Defense Command satellite track data.
A Pentagon spokesperson acknowledged that USNI News had requested information on Thursday, but didn’t immediately respond to queries. Prior to entering the atmosphere, the Department of Defense didn’t issue any statement.
The NORAD tracking data shows that the stage was part of a mission that delivered three military electronics surveillance satellites. These satellites were supposed to collect signals data from South China Sea. Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told USNI New Thursday.
The rocket lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in central China on June 23, 2009.
Officials from China have not yet acknowledged that there was an unplanned reentry at the time of this posting.
According to the Chinese space agency, the Chang Zheng 2D rocket measures 135 feet long and can carry about 8,000 pounds of cargo into low Earth orbit.
Officials in the United States are still trying to determine if any debris hit the ground. China has been criticised for allowing space debris into the atmosphere, posing a danger to populations centers and causing unpredicted damage.
After more than a week of flying above the United States, the Long March rocket was destroyed by the United States.