We’re hopeful it will land in a place where it won’t harm anyone, hopefully in the ocean or someplace like that.’
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was asked during a press conference Thursday whether there was a plan in place to deal with debris from a Chinese rocket that’s expected to fall to earth this weekend.
His answer raised questions about whether the DoD was dismissing a possible threat to the US.
“At this point, we don’t have a plan to shoot the rocket down. We’re hopeful it will land in a place where it won’t harm anyone, hopefully in the ocean or someplace like that.”
He wen’t on to chastise China for their space program’s irresponsibility, though he did not specifically name the nation.
“I think this speaks to the fact that for those of us who operate in the space domain, there should be a requirement to operate in a safe and thoughtful mode and make sure that we take those kinds of things into consideration as we plan and conduct operations,” Austin stated.
Asked if the department had the capability to shoot down the rocket, Austin answered, “We have the capability to do a lot of things, but we don’t have a plan to shoot it down as we speak.”
Late last month, China fired off its 10-story tall Long March 5B rocket sending the Tianhe module into space where it will later serve as living quarters for Chinese astronauts.
Typically rocket debris disintegrates as it falls through earth’s atmosphere and/or it lands in the ocean out of harm’s way, however the situation is unique as scientists have not been able to pinpoint exactly where the pieces will land, other than to say it will land this weekend.
“The Tianhe launch was the first of 11 missions needed to complete the station,” reports Reuters.