An out of control Chinese Rocket will soon crash

Space has always been a risky business, but Chinese out-of-control rocket re-entries have put even more lives at risk. On Sunday 24th July, China launched its most powerful rocket, the Large 23Ton Long March 5B from Hainan Island in the South China Sea. Its mission: To deliver a new laboratory module called the Wentian, for China’s Tiangong space station.

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Unlike SpaceX which uses reusable rocket core stages with safe reentry controls, when China launches its Long March 5B rockets, the core stage simply remains in orbit until Earth’s gravity pulls it back down. That means no one knows where or when it will land.

According to CNN, Michael Byers a professor at the University of British Colombia and the author of a recent study on the risk of casualties from space debris said the following: “It’s a 20-tonne metal object. Although it will break up as it enters the atmosphere, numerous pieces — some of them quite large — will reach the surface,”.

According to Buyers, Space debris generally poses minimal risk to humans. But it is possible that larger pieces could cause serious damage if they land in inhabited regions. Buyer’s also said that uncontrolled rocket reentries are approximately three times more likely to land at the latitudes of Jakarta, Dhaka, and Lagos than those of New York, Beijing, or Moscow.

This is the third time China has been accused of not properly handling space debris from its rocket stage. Using the same rocket model, last year China launched another module of its space station. And 10 days later, debris from the rocket’s uncontrolled reentry landed in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives.

In 2020, there was another uncontrolled reentry of a 20 Ton Chinese rocket core. It passed directly over Los Angeles and New York before plunging into the Atlantic Ocean. Holger Krag, head of the EU Space Agency’s Debris Office, said that the Long March 5B’s reentry zone is geographically limited to between Latitudes 41 degrees South and 41 degrees North of the Equator.

The U.S. Space Command said that they are tracking the Chinese rocket’s fall, back to earth. However, due to changing atmospheric conditions, they will not be able to determine the Rocket’s exact re-entry point until within a few hours of its return. According to their estimates, the rocket is likely to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere around August 1.

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