Friday, December 3, 2021

US Space Command tracks Chinese rocket for uncontrolled re-entry from orbit

Remnants of Chinese rocket ‘Long March 5B’ launched from China’s Hainan Island on April 29 are expected to plunge back through the atmosphere this weekend in an uncontrolled re-entry.

The US military said that the 18th Space Control Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base is tracking the rocket, plotting updates on its location as it descends. It added that the rocket’s exact point of descent into the Earth’s atmosphere cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its re-entry, which is projected to occur around May 8th.

Jonathan McDowell from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said that potentially dangerous debris in all likelihood would fall into the sea, given that 70% of the world is covered by ocean. However, there is a chance that pieces of the rocket could come down over land, perhaps in a populated area, he added. In May 2020, pieces from another Chinese Long March 5B rocket rained down on the Ivory Coast, damaging several buildings, though no injuries were reported.

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