What we need to learn from the runaway Chinese rocket

What we need to learn from the runaway Chinese rocket

What is revealed by the unjustified clamor of the fragment of the Long March 5b which fell yesterday in the Indian Ocean. And who would pay in case of damage to people or property?

(photo: IPA) After returning to the atmosphere when in Italy it was 4:15 yesterday, May 9, what remained of the Chinese Long Marcia 5b rocket it fell into the Indian Ocean, north of the Maldives, without causing any damage.

With hindsight, several aspects of what happened should be investigated: was it really an emergency? If not, why so much fuss? And above all, if similar events cause damage in the future, who should compensate them and who should impose penalties? Not only is it certain that space activities will intensify, but China will use the Long March 5b to conclude, by the end of 2022, its new orbiting station, the Tiangong, whose first module was launched on April 29th. , precisely from the rocket that returned without control.

As regards the real extent of the risk, what tweeted on Saturday by the Italian Civil Protection would be enough to reveal an exaggerated media alarmism:

Assuming 1000 space objects with the same characteristics in uncontrolled re-entry at the same time, no more than 3 people would be involved worldwide. #razzocinese

- Department of Civil Protection (@DPCgov) May 8, 2021

In other words, every day space debris falls to Earth without anyone caring about it and without causing problems. The fact that in this case the attention was focused on the extraterrestrial threat is however attributable to more than one reason: the mass of the uncontrolled object, estimated between 18 and 21 tons, an identical precedent not finished as well, in 2020 , when fragments of another Lunga Marcia 5b hit some buildings in the Ivory Coast, and above all an attitude on the part of the Chinese authorities that aroused serious perplexity in the international community, the United States first and foremost.

Although remote, in fact, the emergency or its perception reaffirm a question that is far from resolved: the safety of our space activities. Security increasingly at the top of the global agenda, given the constant increase in the number of countries and individuals with access to space. Just think that while in 1960 there were 2 nations investing beyond the atmosphere, in 2006 they were 47. Today they are 70 and in a few months they will be 81 (source Euro Consult 2016).

(image: AerospaceCorp / Twitter) "We do not exclude that public opinion, especially Western opinion, had an extraordinary perception of this launch, because it was implemented by a country with growing ambitions beyond the atmosphere, in fact the largest competitor in the sector, and because it followed the mass in orbit of a new entirely Chinese station ", comment Pietro Santoriello of Partners4Innovation (P4i) - a consultancy firm that also deals with space law - and Ivan Fino, collaborator of P4i specializing in international space law.

That the situation, even if inflated by the media, will become more complicated, however, confirmed, on Saturday, an official statement by Bill Nelson, the new NASA administrator for a few weeks: "The nations traveling in space must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth regarding the reentry of space objects and maximize transparency regarding such operations. It is clear that China fails to meet accountability standards regarding its own space debris. It is imperative that China and all nations and commercial entities act responsibly and transparently in space to ensure the long-term security, stability, security and sustainability of space activities ”.

Not too much between the lines, it is the confirmation of the fact that the United States considers the extraterrestrial as a new operational domain, as NATO indicates, an area to be presided over in the same way as the earth, the sea, the sky and of cyber, and within which military operations are likely to intensify in the coming years. The fear of the United States is mainly represented by Russia and China, recently linked in the project to create a scientific base on the lunar territory and accused of having "armed space". It is written bluntly in the Defense Space Strategy Summary of the American Defense, where several times reference is made to a possible space war to be won by anticipating rivals from the point of view of technological development. It is no coincidence, however, that Nelson's statement is consistent with Joe Biden's full support of the Space Force, the armed force responsible for managing defense activities beyond the atmosphere established by Donald Trump in December 2019.

"Space has a certain civil value, but even more it has a military one, also because it is, in fact, the new strategic theater" comments Ezio Bussoletti, former vice president of the Italian space agency and consultant for numerous spatial stakeholders, including institutions. “The geopolitical balances of the Earth are being played out, and more and more will be played, beyond its atmosphere. It is therefore obvious that space activities of any kind cannot be left to civilian interests alone. Moreover, everything is linked to the growing need to seek and exploit new resources, an element that increases the economic importance and weight of the sector ".

It therefore seems correct to consider the militarization of space as one of the pillars of the new race beyond the atmosphere, characterized by conflicting interests between two blocs that are increasingly taking shape as the Western one, on the one hand, and the Sino-Russian one on the other. In other words, are the return of Lunga Marcia 5b and its narration the prelude to an escalation of contrasts beyond the sky? “It is impossible for me to judge it” continues Bussoletti, “and it is not even said that the blocks are those. The real Russian intentions remain to be understood: it is evident that China will proceed by itself into space, aware of its own strength. After all, the new modular station is just proof of what the Asian giant is capable of doing, in full autonomy, beyond the atmosphere ".

The Lunga Marcia 5b on the launch pad (photo: CNSA) Before imagining extra-terrestrial war scenarios, however, the urgency requires understanding how and if risk situations such as the one experienced today are governed in recent hours.

“The uncontrolled re-entry of space debris into the atmosphere is an ordinary event. The probability that they cause damage to people and objects is infinitesimal ”, confirm Santoriello and Fino. “This does not mean that, contrary to what has been communicated by the media in recent days, the legal discipline relating to these events exists and is applied. In the event of damage caused by space debris fallen on Earth, the Outer Space Treaty, issued by the United Nations in 1967, and the Laiability Convention of '72, establish that the damage caused on the Earth's surface is to be indemnified with absolute responsibility, the which means they must be compensated without even the need to verify whether the launching state has had negligence or inexperience. It is quite different if the damage is recorded in space, for example in the event that an object hits the International Space Station or another orbiting asset. In this case, the subjective element must be evaluated, that is the fault of the launcher ".

In summary, had something happened, China should have compensated those entitled: "Of course, and regardless of the effective observance of the security protocols (article 7 of the Outer Space Treaty), which instead becomes fundamental in the case international liability (Article 6 of the Treaty). In any case, however, the compensation would have been and is imposed ”. This implies that there is an international body with the power of verification and sanctions. “In the case of international offenses it is the International Court of Justice; however, it is much more likely that the parties involved will face each other directly, as happened in the 1970s in Canada, after the fall of the Russian nuclear satellite, Cosmos, when the two countries reached an economic compromise, 6 million dollars Canadians ".

Yet, the United Arab Emirates have recently invoked the establishment of an international tribunal dedicated to space. "An ad hoc court would speed up the procedures, just like the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, provided for by Unclos, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, does. It would be like giving a preferential lane ”.

Lane increasingly urgent, given the traffic expected in the coming years near the Earth. And not only there: even far from us, space could return to being not one, but the next frontier to be conquered. Another story is that of the eventual space war, but basically this is what made the infinitesimal threat of a rocket lost above our heads sensational.

Culture - 41 minutes ago

The bad news is that cancel culture exists and how

adsJSCode ("nativeADV1", [[2 , 1]], "true", "1", "native", "read-more", "1"); Medicine - 2 hours ago

Anti-Covid vaccinations, details for over 50 bookings

adsJSCode ("nativeADV2", [[2,1]], "true", "2 "," native "," read-more "," 2 "); Finance - 3 hours ago

How digital currency experiments are proceeding in China


China Esa Italy Joe Biden Nasa Politics Rockets Russia Space United States globalData.fldTopic = "China, Esa, Italy, Joe Biden, Nasa, Politics, Rockets, Russia, Space, United States"

You may also be interested in

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial -NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Powered by Blogger.