Will China Stop Recklessly Disposing of Space Debris?

The Long March 5B launches in 2020, 2021, and 2022. All three launches‘ rocket bodies have returned to earth as uncontrolled reentries. Photos courtesy CCTV and CASC.

This is the third Long March 5B launch in a row where the rocket body has reached orbit then tumbled uncontrollably back to Earth. Obviously, China understands this risk. How dangerous is this behavior?

File photo of a Long March 5 core stage. A similar 10-story, 22.5 ton piece of debris is predicted to reenter Earth’s atmosphere in an uncontrolled tumble this weekend. Credit: Xinhua

Are there international standards that spacefaring nations abide by for rocket launch?

Have U.S. officials commented on this?

Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator. Photo courtesy NASA.

Are there consequences for allowing debris to fall uncontrolled?

What are some possible solutions?

What are the inherent challenges to implementing international norms?

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