US military tracks uncontrollable fall of Chinese rocket

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — A Chinese rocket about 30 meters long, launched earlier this month, is likely to return to Earth’s atmosphere on Monday. This object will become the most massive object in a decade, which will return to the earth in an uncontrolled way after almost a week in orbit. The rocket was launched on May 5 with a prototype capsule for the next-generation crew.

According to U.S. military observers, as of Saturday, the launch vehicle revolved around the Earth in an elliptical orbit ranging in height from 152 km to 270 km. The forecast, released on Saturday by U.S. military personnel who track objects in orbit, predicts re-entry of the rocket in a 24-hour period between 23:35 GMT on May 10 and until 23:35 GMT on May 11.

But uncontrolled re-entry into the atmosphere is difficult to predict, and the forecast may change as ground-based radars continue to track the body of the Long March 5B rocket in orbit. Changes in atmospheric resistance and solar activity can delay the re-entry time to both an earlier and a later period.

According to Aerospace Corp., a minute error in predicting re-entry times changes the location of potential falling debris by almost 500 kilometers.

The largest man-made object re-entering the atmosphere from orbit was the Russian space station Mir, which in 2001 carried out a controlled fall into the South Pacific. NASA and the Russian Space Agency are planning to eventually complete such a controlled rollup of the International Space Station at the end of its life.

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