The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) has issued a new advisory warning the public to take precautions against falling rocket debris following the launch of the Long March 7A from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on Hainan Island at 6 p.m., Philippine time, on Monday.
Drop Zone Area 1 is 79.877 kilometers from Burgos, Ilocos Norte, and 121.306 kilometers from Dalupiri Island in the Babuyan Islands, and Drop Zone Area 2 is 41.686 kilometers from Sta. Ana, Cagayan, 41.37 kilometers from Camiguin Island in the Babuyan Islands, and 47.844 kilometers from Babuyan Island, the government’s space agency said.
Due to an aerospace flight activity, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) warnings prior to the launch.
As a result of coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), the coordinates of the areas where unburned rocket debris is expected to fall have been determined.
“PhilSA immediately issued advance notice to relevant government agencies and authorities as soon as the launch dates have been confirmed, and has recommended the issuance of appropriate air and marine warnings,” it said.
“Unburned debris from rockets, such as the booster and faring, are designed to be discarded as the rocket enters outer space. While not projected to fall on land features or inhabited areas, falling debris poses danger and potential risk to ships, aircraft, fishing boats, and other vessels that will pass through the drop zone,” it added.
According to PhilSA, there is also the possibility that the debris will drift around the area and wash up onto the coasts that are close by.
It also said it is currently impossible to rule out the possibility of the upper stages of the rocket returning from space and experiencing an uncontrolled re-entry into the atmosphere.
PhilSA reiterates its earlier advice for the public to inform local authorities if suspected debris is sighted. PhilSA also cautions against retrieving or coming in close contact with these materials that may contain remnants of toxic substances such as rocket fuel.