The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) advises the public to take the necessary precaution related to the launch of the Long March 7A from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan Island on Monday at 06:00 AM Philippine Time. Expected unburned debris from the rocket is projected to fall in two drop zones. Drop zone area 1 is 79.877 kilometers from Burgos, Ilocos Norte, and 121.306 kilometers from Dalupiri Island in the Babuyan Islands. 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. 

Prior to the launch, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) warnings “due to an aerospace flight activity.” Upon coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), the coordinates of the areas where expected unburned debris from the rocket are projected to fall have been identified. 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.

Estimated drop zone area for expected unburned debris from Long March 7Ai

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.  There is also a possibility for the debris to float around the area and wash toward nearby coasts. Additionally, the possibility of an uncontrolled re-entry to the atmosphere of the rocket’s upper stages returning from outer space cannot be ruled out at this time.

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.