The Chang Zheng 2D “Long March” rocket, which launched China into orbit to send military surveillance satellites into space, broke up over Texas over fears it could scatter debris hundreds of miles away.

This is the second stage of the Chang Zheng 2D ‘Long March’ rocket, which was launched on June 23. According to USNI newsThe four-ton component of a Chang Zheng 2D “Long March” missile ripped through the atmosphere over Texas at 17,000 miles per hour on Wednesday and disintegrated, two US defense officials confirmed.

U.S. military officials, who are searching for debris in an area of ​​hundreds of square miles, have yet to find debris from the missile stage, but it is believed the generated debris field could be several miles wide and long.

The Department of Defense has not issued a statement prior to entering the atmosphere.

Satellite tracking data from the North American Aerospace Defense Command indicated that the missile component was in low Earth orbit before making the “unplanned descent”. Tracking data reportedly shows the missile was launched as part of a mission to send satellites into space aimed at collecting signal data from the South China Sea.

The 43-meter rocket was launched on June 23, 2022 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in central China.

The Chang Zheng 2D can carry cargo up to 8,000 pounds into low Earth orbit.

Past Incidents of Chinese Missile Drops

The incident is the latest instance of a Chinese missile hurtling toward Earth. A missile launched last May scattered debris across the Indian Ocean. At the time, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson accused China of “failing to meet responsible standards regarding its space debris,” including minimizing risk during reentry and being transparent in operations.

Last May, it was also a Long March 5B missile that alerted security services around the world; it eventually fell apart almost completely and the debris that falls into the Indian Ocean and did no damage.

three years earlier, in April 2018, the Tiangong 1 orbital laboratory, which had not been in use since 2016 and was roaming uncontrolled through space, was also checked; it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere over the South Pacific, also causing no damage.