(ORDO NEWS) — A massive unguided rocket booster is predicted to fly back to Earth this weekend, and chances are good that at least some of the debris will be large enough to survive the descent and crash into our planet.
The booster is 53.6 meters (176 feet) long and weighs about 23 metric tons and belongs to a recently launched Chinese rocket.
The good news is that there is a very high chance that this latest descent will cause significant damage. pretty low. The bad news is that at the moment we don’t have a clear idea of where the booster is likely to crash.
Researchers around the world are hard at work to figure out this part. At this point, they are almost certain that reentry will occur on July 31, 2022, and will likely fall under the yellow and blue swirling lines on the map below.
If this sounds like a familiar scenario, you’re right. A very similar thing happened last year – debris landed, fortunately, in the remote Indian Ocean.
However, in 2020, parts of a booster rocket from the same manufacturer crashed near the Ivory Coast in Africa, scattering debris. to the villages: but so far without any serious damage reported.
The booster in question comes from a Long March 5B launch vehicle that was launched by China‘s National Space Administration (CNSA) on July 24, 2022, with the task of delivering a new module into orbit to help build the country’s growing Tiangong space station.
In most cases, the launch of a booster rocket helps to lift the rocket out of the Earth’s atmosphere. This is the first stage that is released after the rocket reaches space.
As for reusable boosters, like the famous ones made by SpaceX, once released, they head back to the surface safe and sound, ready for their next mission.
The boosters commonly used by NASA usually tumble back through the atmosphere at the end of the parachute, falling in a predictable zone without even going into orbit. They are then taken by ships and restored.
Material that has reached orbit, like this particular booster, gets a little harder to track down.
Because the Chinese Long March 5B is so massive, it is expected that roughly 4-9 metric tons could re-enter through the atmosphere when the main boosters re-enter the atmosphere.
With that in mind, it’s good to know that a study was published earlier this week that estimated the likelihood of someone dying from falling space debris over the next decade. death.
Aerospace Corporation analyst Ted Muhlhaupt told Reuters that the risk to any individual is about six chances in 10 trillion for any individual.
He also added that 75 percent of the planet’s surface on a potential reentry path is water, desert or jungle.
Be careful this weekend, and if you’re lucky, you might even be able to watch the reentry of the booster as it flies back to Earth from a safe distance.
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