A large piece of space debris has crashed into Earth’s atmosphere could crash down. The 46,000 – pound Chinese rocket Long March-5B recently launched the first module for the country’s new space station into orbit. The Long March-5B Y2 rocket, carrying the core module of China’s space station Tianhe, takes off from Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province, China April 29, 2021. The 18th Space Control Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 160 miles ( 257 km ) northwest of Los Angeles, is tracking the spent rocket body’s location. The United States was committed to addressing the risks of congestion due to space debris and wants to work with the international community ” to promote leadership and responsible space behaviors ” . I don’t think people should take precautions.
The China National Space Administration weren’t answered on Wednesday, a holiday. China’s Tiangong-1 space lab re – enter the atmosphere above the South Pacific Ocean. The Aerospace Corp. The Pentagon said Wednesday it is following the trajectory of a Chinese rocket expected to make an uncontrolled entry into the atmosphere this weekend, with the risk of crashing down in an inhabited area. China’s 100 – foot ( 30 – m ) Long March 5B rocket successfully launched the Tianhe space station module last Thursday, April 29, 2021. The Tianhe launch was the first of 11 missions needed to complete the station. The rocket’s exact point into the Earth’s atmosphere can not be pinpointed until within hours of its reentry, which is expected around May 8, Space Command said in a statement posted online. Harvard – based astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell said potentially dangerous debris will likely escape incineration after streaking through the atmosphere at hypersonic speed but in all likelihood would fall into the sea, given that 70 % of the world is covered by ocean. The Global Times, a tabloid published by the official People’s Daily, described reports that the rocket is ” out of control ” and could cause damage as ” Western hype ” .
” Most of the debris will burn up during re – entry … leaving only a very small portion that may fall to the ground, which will potentially land on areas away from human activities or in the ocean ” , Wang Yanan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
McDowell, a member of the Harvard – Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said the rocket’s main stage core, believed to weigh about 21 tons, would likely break into a shower of debris equivalent to that of a small plane crash and come down in a narrow trail stretching about 100 miles. Based on the rocket’s current orbit, the debris could fall as far north as New York, Madrid, Beijing and as far south as southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand. McDowell said most countries have sought to design spacecraft in such a way as to avoid large, uncontrolled re – entries, since large chunks of the NASA space station Skylab fell from orbit in July 1979 and landed in Australia. ” It makes the Chinese rocket designers look lazy that they didn’t address this ” , he said, calling the situation ” negligent ” . The U. S. Defense Department expects the rocket stage to fall to Earth. Secretary Lloyd Austin is ” aware and he knows the space command is tracking, literally tracking this rocket debris ” , Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. Debris from the Falcon 9 rocket came crashing down near Seattle last month, dropping debris on Washington State in the process. ” I think by current standards it’s unacceptable to let it re – enter uncontrolled ” , McDowell told Space News. ”
Holger Krag, head of the Space Safety Program Office for the European Space Agency, said : ” China is aware of the potential uncontrolled descent.
China aims to complete its Chinese Space Station, or Tiangong ( Heavenly Palace ) by the end of 2022, state media reported, after several further modules are launched. The good news is that debris plunging toward Earth – while unnerving – generally poses very little threat to personal safety. Wang Ya’nan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said that the development of rocket that is anticipated to reenter Earth’s space authorities from the initial rocket design phase and the choice of a launch site, to the rocket’s liftoff attitude and its trajectory. Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University, told CNN.
Critics say China’s stage of the huge rocket is being controlled or will make an out – of – control descent. McDowell told CNN that the rocket is traveling – even slight changes in circumstance drastically change the trajectory. The newspaper Global Times, published by the Chinese Communist Party, said the stage’s ” thin – skinned ” aluminum alloy exterior will easily burn up in the atmosphere, posing an extremely remote risk to people. Last year, one of the largest pieces of uncontrolled space debris ever, passed directly over Los Angeles and Central Park in New York City before landing in the Atlantic Ocean. The 18 – ton rocket that fell last May was the heaviest debris to fall uncontrolled since the Soviet space station Salyut 7 in 1991. The last space agency controlled the demolition of its second station, Tiangong-2, in the atmosphere. Though it could hit a populated area. And in that two – day period, it goes around the world 30 times. The Chinese Long March 5B rocket is expected to enter earth’s atmosphere ” around May 8 ” , the report quoted a statement from Defence Department spokesperson Mike Howard, who said the U. S. Space Command is tracking the rocket’s trajectory.
The Chinese rocket set to enter Earth’s atmosphere this weekend, however, is designed in a way that ” leaves these big stages in low orbit ” , Dr McDowell said.
But parts of larger objects, like rockets, can survive reentry and potentially reach populated areas. The only larger pieces were Skylab’s rocket stage in 1975 and the Soviet Union’s Salyut 7 space station fell over Western Australia. The space shuttle Columbia from 2003 could be added to that list since NASA lost control of the station. The debris also threatens the International Space Station. Complicating the problem is that space traffic experts still don’t have a fully accurate map of the objects orbiting Earth. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which remains the primary international space activity. Space is intrinsically global, right? The rocket’s’ exact entry point into the earth’s atmosphere’ can’t be pinpointed until within hours of re – entry, Howard said, but the 18th Space Control Squadron will provide daily updates on the rocket’s location through the Space Track website.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday wouldn’t commit to pursuing China to pay compensation in the event of damage. WHAT will be some damage or that it would hit someone is pretty small – not negligible, it could happen, but The risk of it hitting you is incredibly tiny. And so I would not lose one second of sleep over this on a personal threat basis”, he said. It was launched in 2011, as a stepping stone toward China’s long – term goal of launching a permanent space station by 2022. A group of 12 astronauts are training to travel to space and live in the Tianhe module. While the Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin parried questions about the reports that the US defence department was tracking the falling rocket debris, official media here quoted Chinese experts as saying that the parts of the disintegrated rocket will fall in international waters. As a principle, China is committed to the peaceful use of outer space and believes we should conduct international cooperation in this area ” , he said. State – run Global Times quoted aerospace expert and TV commentator Song Zhongping as saying that it is’ completely normal’ for rocket debris to return to Earth. Last year, the re – entry debris fall from the first flight fell on the Ivory Coast with the other Long March 5B in West Africa.
It was the largest craft to crash to earth since the U. S. space laboratory, Skylab scattered debris over the southern Australian town of Esperance in 1979. ” This is a big thing the size of a school bus. At 74 tons, the 77 – tonne US space junk to ever make an uncontrolled reentry in 1979. Early on in the space age, in the 1970s, even NASA would allow things to fall into Earth orbit uncontrollably. China’s 21 – ton Long March 5b core stage rocket is orbiting the planet in a path that could lead to the massive vehicle crashing back to Earth within the next few days. When complete the space station will orbit Earth at an altitude of 211 to 280 miles. ” In all, it is another hyping of the so – called’ China space threat’ adopted by some Western forces”, Song said.