MANILA — The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) on Wednesday confirmed that the debris found off the coast of Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro came from a Chinese rocket.
In a statement, PhilSA said that the debris belonged to a Long March 5B (CZ-5B) rocket from China, but is not part of the components that reentered the Earth's atmosphere on July 31.
"The debris retrieved by PCG Mamburao was identified to be part of the CZ-5B's payload fairing, which detaches from the rocket as it enters outer space during launch," PhilSA said.
"These discarded rocket stages are usually designed and planned to shed over specific dropzones. The dropzones are usually bodies of water and are selected to minimize the hazards of falling onto populated areas," the agency added.
PhilSA said that the Chinese rocket was launched on July 24 and reentered the atmosphere over the Indian Ocean on July 31.
Components of the said rocket were also spotted over the Malaysian airspace, moments before the landing trajectory ended in the Sulu Sea near Palawan.
PhilSA advised the public to inform local authorities if they find suspected debris at sea or land, but also cautioned against retrieving or coming near the debris as these may contain remnants of toxic substances such as rocket fuel.
"Prior to the rocket launch on 24 July, PhilSA proactively issued an advisory to all relevant government agencies about the launch and the estimated dropzone locations of the rocket debris. Teams have been mobilized and prepared to implement coordination protocols with other national government agencies," PhilSA said.
On July 26, fishermen from Barangay 7 of Mamburao found and recovered the debris.
The CZ-5B rocket is one of two Long March 5 rockets developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), and is designed to deliver objects to low Earth orbit.