Dreams of Heaven – or Mengtian in Chinese. This is the name of the last module that completed the Chinese space station Tiangong 1 (Himmelstraum 1) earlier this month. It was launched by a Long March 5 rocket.

And like its predecessors, it has a problem. The rocket is no longer able to restart its engines. That’s why she can no longer control her path. The result: After completing the job, she fell uncontrollably to the ground. Much of it burns up when it re-enters the atmosphere. But debris could also survive.

This in turn meant that certain parts of the sky had to be closed in European aviation on Friday (November 4). The aerospace agency Easa had identified that there was a risk of falling debris over parts of France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus.

Parts of Spanish airspace and the airspace over southern Corsica therefore had to be closed to overflights for a while in the morning. Easa initially also identified metropolitan regions such as Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Rome and Athens as endangered areas.

Spanish airspace was hardest hit. Iberia therefore warned on its Twitter account that flights could be affected throughout the day. Among other things, flights to Switzerland and Germany were also delayed. Even if the danger is over, it could take some time before flight operations are back to normal, the airline said.

It’s not the first time a Chinese missile has crashed into the ground uncontrolled. In the first instance, parts of a Long March 5 rocket crashed in Ivory Coast, also damaging homes. people were not injured. The second crash saw fragments fall into the Indian Ocean near the Maldives, while the third saw suspected debris from a Long March 5 missile found in India. The Easa had already issued a warning similar to the current one in the summer. However, with less drastic consequences.

This article was written by Laura Frommberg

The original of this article “Chinese space debris hinders air traffic in Europe” comes from aeroTelegraph.