The US military does not plan to shoot down a piece of Chinese rocket debris making an uncontrolled reentry back to Earth, hoping that it will land in a harmless place like an ocean, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday.
“We don’t have a plan to shoot the rocket down. We’re hopeful that it will land in a place where it won’t harm anyone, hopefully in the ocean or somewhere like that,” Austin said.
The piece of space debris – a portion of a rocket used to launch a module up to China’s new space station – is expected to make impact on Saturday or Sunday of this week, although estimates are imprecise.
The defense chief said the US may have the capability to shoot it down if necessary.
Austin added that this situation highlights why there ought to be safe and thoughtful operating requirements for countries working in space.