The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) over the weekend recovered debris near Subic, Zambales, believed to be parts of a Long March rocket launched by China in October.
The PCG said among the materials recovered on Saturday, December 17, are metal and plastic debris measuring two meters long and four meters wide, found floating in waters some 55 nautical miles west of Subic, Zambales.
The materials were suspected to be part of the rocket launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on October 31, carrying a research laboratory module to China’s Tiangong Space Station.
According to the PCG, the Philippine Space Agency posted a public advisory during the day of the launch, alerting the public for possible falling debris within two drop zones.
The recovery was made a day after Filipino boat captain David Gervacio reported the sighting of a white cylindrical shaped object believed to be rocket debris.
“[T]he PCG remains alert and ready to assist in identifying and recovering objects at sea to ensure the safety of vessels and Filipino fisherfolk plying waters within the Philippine maritime jurisdiction,” the PCG said.
Last month, a large piece of metal debris was recovered in the vicinity waters off Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro, not far from where large pieces of metal with Chinese markings were recovered in the waters off Mamburao, also in Occidental Mindoro, in August, after portions of the booster stage from China’s Long March 5B rocket reportedly fell into waters southeast of Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
On November 22, the Department of National Defense stood by the military’s account that the Chinese coast guard “rudely took” floating debris retrieved by the PCG in waters off Pag-Asa Island on November 20.
The Chinese foreign ministry said that its coast guard took the object after a “friendly consultation” with the Philippine side, but the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest over the issue. The Senate also expressed its “disgust” over the incident. — Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas/BM, GMA Integrated News