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Space & Astronomy

'Out-of-control' rocket is falling to Earth

By T.K. Randall
May 4, 2021 · Comment icon 16 comments

China has been described as 'negligent' over the incident. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 NikoLang
A Chinese rocket that is currently in a failing orbit is likely to at least partially survive re-entry and fall to Earth.
The Long March 5B, which launched from Wenchang in Hainan province on April 29th, had carried the first module of the Tianhe space station - China's latest orbital outpost - into Earth's orbit.

Upon completing this task however, the 30-meter rocket has since entered an unstable orbit and it looks as though it is likely to re-enter the atmosphere and crash onto the planet's surface.

"It's potentially not good," said Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell.

"Last time they launched a Long March 5B rocket they ended up with big long rods of metal flying through the sky and damaging several buildings in the Ivory Coast. Most of it burned up, but there were these enormous pieces of metal that hit the ground. We are very lucky no one was hurt."

Over the last few days the orbital altitude of the rocket has dropped by 80km and ground observations have indicated that it is hurtling uncontrollably through space.
When it does come down, it's unclear exactly where it will land - the potential area it will hit ranges from New York in the United States to Wellington, New Zealand.

Unsurprisingly, the international community has condemned China's lack of care on the matter.

"What's bad is that it's really negligent on China's part," said McDowell. "Things more than ten tonnes we don't let them fall out of the sky uncontrolled deliberately."

As things stand, it is estimated that the rocket will reach the ground sometime around May 10th.

Let us hope that it does not hit any heavily populated areas when that happens.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (16)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by Jon the frog 3 years ago
What goes up must goes down more or less... it's not the first mishap in reentry that rained debris all over the place like we have seen with Skylab or Columbia. At least it's not a nuclear rain like Kosmos 954...
Comment icon #8 Posted by OverSword 3 years ago
The chances are most likely that it will land in the oceans or someplace not heavily populated I would think.  We could hope it nails the capital during a session I suppose.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Zeds Dead 3 years ago
Just ask a Democrate as to how China what !!! created covid, a rocket a nuclear bomb. Lets asj Hunter Biden or his dad
Comment icon #10 Posted by acute 3 years ago
Wrong! It's landing on my Austin Allegro, just like Kim's ICBM experiment did. 
Comment icon #11 Posted by NCC1701 3 years ago
I always wanted a rocket engine in my front yard.
Comment icon #12 Posted by L.A.T.1961 3 years ago
How much did you have to pay them. 
Comment icon #13 Posted by diddyman68 3 years ago
Manwan gives odds of a trillion to 1 ,landing on your motor. I am willing to wager  1 penny it does.sleep well manwan.
Comment icon #14 Posted by acute 3 years ago
  How much did you have to pay them.    It may be a joke to you, but it's not to me. After the impact, it took me nearly four minutes to restore it back to how it was.  
Comment icon #15 Posted by theotherguy 3 years ago
I'm going to say 75% chance it lands in the ocean and disappears, 22% it lands in the ocean and is recovered, 3% chance it lands somewhere nobody's going to get hurt (maybe some property damage), and 1% it risks injuring someone. I'm going completely off blind guesswork for these odds.
Comment icon #16 Posted by susieice 3 years ago
It came down into the Indian Ocean in an area near the Maldives. https://abcnews.go.com/International/chinese-rocket-updates-tracking-massive-debris-uncontrolled-reentry/story?id=77575214 The majority of it burned up on re-entry. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/09/china-says-rocket-debris-landed-in-indian-ocean-west-of-maldives.html

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