China Reports Finding Debris From Russian Rocket
Following the mid-flight failure of a Russian Proton rocket, which appeared to break up during its third stage of flight on Friday, there have been several conflicting reports from various countries as to whether or not debris from the rocket reached the Earth's surface.
Chinese media reported earlier this week that five unidentified-flying-objects (UFOs) crash landed in and around Qiqihar, of the Heilongjiang Province in China. According to such reports, locals from three villages in the Heilongjiang province reported hearing a "huge piercing sound" and then seeing three to five objects falling from the sky around 1 pm Friday. More recent reports say three more objects fell from the sky as early as Monday.
Some of these objects have apparently already turned up, including a 90-pound "metal sphere, half-covered by a layer with a jagged edge," which turned up in a vegetable garden, China's CCTV English reports.
According to the report, residual nitrogen gas was found inside this sphere, leading to speculation that the debris came from an aircraft.
However, Russian news agency Ria Novosti, which operates under the purview of the Russian Ministry of Communications and Mass Media, reported on Friday that there is no chance that debris fell from the rocket, which broke up just over China after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
"Roscosmos chief Oleg Ostapenko said the stage and its payload burned up in the atmosphere above China, with no debris reaching Earth. The Proton has been grounded pending results from an investigation into the failure," the agency reported.
Still, this has not stopped reports of sightings of speculated rocket debris across the world. Britain's The Independent reported that parts from the rocket scattered east into Russia, Siberia, and the Pacific Ocean. While Radio Free Europe detailed how Australian citizens claimed to see "what appeared to be large chunks of satellite debris crashing to Earth."
The Crashed Proton rocket failed to breach the Earth's outer-most atmosphere at 100 miles up - nine minutes after takeoff.
According to Ria Novosti, this isn't the first Proton rocket crash. Last July, a Proton rocket crashed so soon after liftoff that there was no way to slow its decent. The surrounding countryside was "showered with 600 tons of flaming propellants," resulting in a nearly $90 million clean-up bill.