PhilSA confirms another Chinese rocket launch; warns of debris near Patag Island, Rozul Reef

The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) confirmed on Thursday May 9, that the People's Republic of China has carried out a rocket launch named "Long March 3B/E."

Estimated drop zone of the Long March 3B/E Launch. (PhilSA)

In a statement, PhilSA said the launch took place at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan China, at around 9:50 a.m. on Thursday.

Meanwhile, it cautioned the public that "expected debris from the rocket launch was projected to have fallen within the identified drop zones approximately 28 NM (nautical miles) away from Rozul Reef (West Philippine Sea) and 38 NM away from Patag Island (Catanduanes)."

The agency reminded the public to promptly inform local authorities if any suspected debris is sighted.

"Unburned debris from rockets, such as the booster and faring, are designed to be discarded as the rocket enters outer space," PhilSA said.

PhilSA emphasized that although the debris is not projected to fall on land features or inhabited areas, there is still a potential danger and risk to ships, aircraft, fishing boats, and other vessels passing through the designated drop zones.

"There is also a possibility for the debris to float around the area and wash toward nearby coasts," it said.

The details of the rocket drop zone were disclosed through a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) as a warning of an "aerospace flight activity."

Furthermore, the agency pointed out that "uncontrolled re-entry to the atmosphere of the rocket’s upper stages returning from outer space cannot be ruled out at this time."

Thus, PhilSa reiterated to 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."