Palace says to verify if China moon rocket flew over Luzon


Posted at Nov 26 2020 05:48 PM | Updated as of Nov 26 2020 05:55 PM

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Malacañang said Thursday it would look into reports that Long March 5, China’s biggest and most powerful rocket, passed over Luzon this week, which a scientist said might be a potential security threat. 

"Ipapa-verify po muna natin po iyan dahil walang impormasyon na may ganiyang nangyari," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters.

The Long March 5 lifted off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan Province in the southernmost part of China on Nov. 24 at 4:30 a.m., Manila time. Footage from China’s state-run CGTN YouTube channel shows it passing over Luzon and the Pacific Ocean on its way to orbit. 

The rocket is the size of a 20-story building and capable of carrying a payload of 25 tons—equivalent to the weight of 16 cars, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency.

The launch was part of China’s ambitious Chang’e 5 lunar exploration mission, a landmark bid to become only the third country in the world after the US and Russia to retrieve and return lunar rock samples to Earth.

"It's a potential national security and space security issue if we regularly have rocket components flying over and possibly crashing into Philippine territory," said astrophysicist Rogel Mari Sese, former program leader of the National Space Development Program (NSDP) and current chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Ateneo de Davao University.

“One of the Key Development Areas of our Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy is National Security and Development. Hence, there is a national security concern given the trajectory of the rocket launches from Hainan Island,” he told ABS-CBN News.

Watch part of Roque's briefing here.