China Plans to Make Its Space Debris Hit the Ground a Little Slower

Chute from the Stars China’s space program has a bit of a debris problem: the expendable boosters of its multistage rockets tend to come haphazardly falling back to Earth after being shed off. That has repeatedly incurred the concern and scorn of its Western counterparts who fear that, God forbid, the stuff might land on innocent bystanders, with NASA administrator Bill Nelson warning last winter that China is “is taking unnecessary risks” with the uncontrolled reentry of its rocket stages. But now, China may finally have found a permanent solution. As spotted by, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the space program’s main contractor, is nearing completion of a parachute system that will guide its discarded boosters safely — and accurately — down to Earth. Such a system could help the country’s space program catch up with the likes of SpaceX, which has long established a way to safely return its reusable boosters with the use of retro thrusters. Gentle Descent CASC’s system is designed so that the side boosters used on several versions of its Long March rockets — China’s most depended-on rocket family — can be recovered, reused, or salvaged. “In the booster’s process of falling, we open the parachute and use its gliding control performance to reduce the original landing area of [19 to 56 miles] to a relatively smaller area, so that the booster will drop on a designated place,” Teng Haishan, deputy chief engineer at the 508th Research Institute of the China…China Plans to Make Its Space Debris Hit the Ground a Little Slower

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