Objects that crashed to the ground in China have been identified as space debris, Chinese state media reported, after a Russian rocket carrying a communications satellite fell back to Earth minutes after liftoff.
Qiqihar, in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, which borders Russia’s far east, reported that several objects appeared to have fallen from the sky on Friday, Xinhua news agency said.
After analysis, experts have concluded they were “parts from a carrier rocket or a satellite,” Xinhua said on Sunday, citing the China National Space Administration.
Authorities were communicating on the issue “with relevant parties,” it added.
The report came after Russia’s space officials said the Proton rocket’s control engine failed on Friday just over nine minutes past launch from the Baikonur space center that Moscow leases in Kazakhstan — the latest blow to the country’s once-proud space industry.
State television showed the carrier and its Express-AM4P satellite burning up in the upper layers of the atmosphere.
The 150 million euro (US$205 million) satellite — built by Airbus Group’s Astrium corporation — was meant to provide Internet access to far-flung Russian regions with poor access to communication.