A 23-ton piece of a dead space rocket is about to fall from the sky

(ORDO NEWS) — On Monday, China successfully launched the third and final part of its new Tiangong space station, and this weekend the 23-ton rocket body returns somewhere to Earth.

The Mengtian module carrying scientific experiments launched on a Chinese Long March 5B rocket.

As it lifted into space, the rocket’s main stage gave the space station module a final push into Earth’s orbit before separating.

Unlike most modern missile corps, which are designed to advance to a distant part of the planet. Pacific Ocean, the body of Long March 5B entered its own orbit around the Earth.

It is on its way to re-entry into the atmosphere an event called “re-entry” and fall back to Earth on Friday or Saturday morning Eastern Time.

No one knows where the rocket body will fall, and no one controls it. But it is extremely unlikely that any space debris will fall on you.

Forecast: it will rain from rocket parts

Experts can only estimate how much of the Long March rocket body, which is about the size of a 10-story building, will crash into the Earth.

Some of it will probably burn up as it breaks through the atmosphere, but the rocket body is too large to completely collapse.

The instance rule says that 20 to 40 percent of the mass of a large object will survive. its fall through the atmosphere, Aerospace Corporation experts previously told Insider.

It’s still too early to say exactly where the main stage could fall – most likely to pieces. But the Aerospace Corporation is tracking the rocket’s stage and predicting possible paths for its return to Earth.

A 23 ton piece of a dead space rocket is about to fall from the sky 2
The predicted path of the Long March 5B rocket body around the Earth, represented by the yellow and blue lines, at the time it could fall, as of November 2, 2022. The yellow icon marks the position of the rocket body in the middle of the predicted re-entry window

According to the estimates of these analysts, the area in which debris can fall covers about 88 percent of the world’s population.

But this population is highly concentrated in several places. Most of the area where debris can fall is open ocean or uninhabited land.

However, space industry leaders have condemned China’s practice of uncontrolled re-entry, saying it poses an unnecessary risk to human life and property.

Estimates will improve in the coming days as the rocket body approaches atmospheric reentry.

Debris from a Chinese rocket continues to fall back to Earth

This is the fourth time that the remnants of a Chinese Long March 5B rocket have threatened lives and property. Each of the three rocket launches – in 2020, 2021 and July 2022 – pieces of its body fell back to Earth.

In May 2020, debris from one of these rockets was found near two villages. in Côte d’Ivoire, reportedly causing property damage.

China said in 2021 that rocket debris had landed in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives, according to The New York Times.

A 23 ton piece of a dead space rocket is about to fall from the sky 3
The Chinese March 5B rocket will launch on October 31, 2022

Earlier this year, in July, parts of the booster also fell to Earth, and several probable parts were found. on both the Malaysian and Indonesian sides of the island of Borneo, as well as in the ocean near the Philippines.

Most of the rocket stages collapse, restarting their engines shortly after delivering payload into orbit, propelling themselves.

From populated areas and into the Pacific Ocean. But in the case of the Long March 5B, China did not develop a rocket booster for controlled reentry.

“Missiles are launched all the time, and there are very few concerns about re-entry,” John Logsdon, the founder of the George Washington University Space Policy Institute told Insider in May 2021 as the world waited for the rocket body to fall. “So yeah, I’m a bit confused as to why this is happening.”

“Is this just a deliberate disregard for international rules? can it make a controlled re-entry? Anything,” Logsdon said, adding, “Unfortunately, this puts a lot of people at risk.”

Space junk could kill someone this decade

In a study published in the journal Nature in July, researchers calculated a roughly 10 percent chance that debris would hit one or more people over a 10-year period.

These are not only Chinese missile hulls. Satellites and pieces of unknown debris regularly fall out of orbit.

“If you roll the dice too many times, someone will get lucky,” formerly Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer who meticulously tracks objects in Earth’s orbit. told Insider.

Ted Muhlhaupt, a consultant working on the Aerospace Corporation’s re-entry database, previously told Insider that an object weighing at least 1 ton falls from orbit and re-enters the atmosphere on a weekly basis.

The Long March 5B boosters are among the largest objects to hit Earth, but uncontrolled re-entry is not unique to China.

In 1979, NASA’s Skylab space station descended rapidly, scattering debris over Australia. Today, however, controlled re-entry is standard practice.

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