The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) confirms the launch of the Long March 7 rocket of the People’s Republic of China. Expected debris from the rocket launch was projected to have fallen within the identified drop zones approximately 43 NM (DZ 1), 40 NM (DZ 2), and 52 NM (DZ 3) away from Bajo de Masinloc, and 98 NM (DZ 3) from Cabra Island.
Long March 7 was launched from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Wenchang, Hainan, China around 10:27 PM PhST on 17 January 2024.
Details of the rocket drop zone were disclosed through a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) warning of an “aerospace flight activity.” PhilSA has disseminated a pre-launch report to relevant government agencies and authorities prior to the launch.
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.