Spain reopens areas of its airspace after Chinese rocket alert

(CNN) — Spain reopened this Friday the areas of its airspace that had been closed due to the possible fall of a Chinese space rocket.

The Emergency Center of Catalonia said in Twitter that the National Emergency Center had informed him that all airspace restrictions associated with the passage of the CZ-5B space object are being lifted.

Earlier, Air Controllers of Spain had reported that, due to the possible fall of a part of a Chinese rocket in the European country, the airspace was closed at the airports of Catalonia, as well as the Balearic Islands, Aragon and Navarra.

The closure of airspace was expected to last at least an hour while the part of the Chinese rocket passes through orbit near these areas of Spain.

According to a bulletin of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, warned about the possible re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere of part of the Long March 5B (CZ-5B) space rocket, launched on October 31, 2022.

A Long March 5B rocket, carrying China’s Mengtian science module, the final module of the Tiangong space station, blasts off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China’s Hainan province on Oct 31, 2022. (Photo by -/CNS/AFP via Getty Images)

The agency said the object has an estimated mass of between 17 and 23 tons, “making it one of the largest pieces of debris to re-enter the atmosphere in recent years.”

Last year, a Chinese rocket that was out of control fell out of orbit in late May, according to China’s space agency.

Most of the rocket was “destroyed” upon re-entry into the atmosphere, the space agency said.

That rocket, which was about 30 meters tall and weighed almost 22 tons, launched a piece of a new Chinese space station into orbit on April 29, 2021. After the fuel ran out, the rocket was dropped uncontrollably by space until Earth’s gravity pulled it back to the ground.

Generally, the international space community tries to avoid such scenarios. Most rockets used to lift satellites and other objects into space make more controlled reentries that point to the ocean, or stay in so-called “graveyard” orbits that keep them in space for decades or centuries.

But the Long March rocket is designed in a way that “leaves big pieces in low orbit,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University, said at the time.

With information from Jackie Wattles and Paul LeBlanc

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