By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

QUEZON CITY — The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) confirmed on Thursday (May 9) the launch of the Long March 3B/E rocket of the People’s Republic of China (China).
The PhilSA said that the expected debris from the rocket launch was projected to have fallen within the identified drop zones approximately 28 Nautical Miles (NM) away from Rozul Reef and 38 NM away from Patag Island.
It added that the Long March 3B/E was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan China around 9:50 AM PhST (Philippine Standard Time) on May 9, 2024.
The details of the rocket drop zone were disclosed through a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) warning of an “aerospace flight activity.”
The 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,” it said.
“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,” it added.
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.
The PhilSA reiterated its advice for the public to inform local authorities if suspected debris is sighted.
It also cautioned against retrieving or coming in close contact with these materials that may contain remnants of toxic substances such as rocket fuel. – By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.