Chinese rocket first-stage debris could fall in New York and Los Angeles

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The first stage of the Chinese Long March 5B launch vehicle (Great Campaign 5-bi, Changzheng-5-bi) flew uncontrollably over New York and Los Angeles before being burned in the Earth’s atmosphere. This was reported on Wednesday by NBC with reference to scientists who studied the trajectory of its descent.

“During the last revolution around the Earth, a rocket stage flew right over Los Angeles and New York,” the television company quoted Jonathan McDowell, a specialist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. NBC emphasizes that before it hit the Earth’s dense atmosphere on Monday, a rocket fragment weighing about 20 tons was in “unstable low orbit” for several days, making it extremely difficult to predict the exact descent trajectory.

Scientists note that this is the largest object in the last 30 years, which in an uncontrolled mode entered the atmosphere of the planet.

MacDowell noted that if the reduction of the first stage of the launch vehicle began 15-20 minutes earlier, then debris that did not have time to burn in dense atmospheric layers could fall on large American cities at a speed of about 160 km / h. “That would not wipe New York off the face of the Earth,” the scientist said. However, he said, this could “destroy the floor of a building.” According to scientists, the debris of the first stage of the rocket fell in the territory of Côte d’Ivoire. According to them, as a result, no one was hurt.

On Monday, the U.S. Air Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron press service said on Twitter that “the entry into the atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean of the stage of the launch vehicle used to launch the Chinese ship into orbit took place at 08:33 p.m. US Pacific Coast time” (18:33 Moscow time). China successfully launched a test version of a new type of Chinese spacecraft from the Wenchang cosmodrome (Hainan Province, South China).

The Changzheng-5-bi launch vehicle is an improved version of the Changzheng-5, the first Chinese heavy-class space rocket (maximum carrying capacity is 25 tons). Changzheng-5-bi has four launch accelerators with a diameter of 3.35 m each. It runs on non-toxic fuels based on liquid hydrogen, kerosene and liquid oxygen. Its length reaches 53.7 m, its diameter is about 5 m. The launch mass of the rocket is 849 tons, and the carrying capacity when launched into low Earth orbit is 22 tons.

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