In early May, the international community held its breath as China’s Long March 5B rocket plummeted uncontrollably back to earth. While the debris landed safely in the Indian Ocean, silencing concerns about a potentially dangerous impact, the increasing frequency of uncontrolled re-entries highlights the importance of state responsibility in safely disposing of space debris. This is not the first time China neglected to dispose properly of its orbital debris. A similar incident occurred this time last year when an out-of-control Chinese rocket–and the largest human-made object ever to return to earth uncontrolled from space–dropped debris on Cote d’Ivoire and in the Atlantic Ocean. While most debris disintegrates upon atmospheric re-entry, some components with higher melting points can persist and penetrate …