Long March 5B: Huge Chinese missile debris may fall to Earth as early as next week

It carried a 23-ton Long March 5B missile Wentian laboratory unittook off from Hainan Island at 2:22 pm local time on Sunday, July 24, and the unit was successfully docked China’s orbital outpost.
Its mission is completed, the rocket has gone in an uncontrolled direction towards the Earth’s atmosphere and it is not clear where it will land. Uncontrolled rates represent the third time that the country has witnessed been accused Failure to properly handle space debris from the rocket stage.
Michael Byers, professor at the University of British Columbia and author of A recent study on the risk of casualties from space debris.
Byers explained that space debris poses very little danger to humans, but that larger pieces can cause damage if they land in populated areas. Byers said that because of the increase in space junkHowever, these small opportunities are becoming more likely, especially in the global south, according to research published in natural astronomy The magazine, where the probability of missiles landing at the latitudes of Jakarta, Dhaka and Lagos is almost three times higher than those in New York, Beijing or Moscow.

“This risk can be completely avoided because technologies and mission designs are now in place that can provide controlled reentries (usually in remote areas of the ocean) rather than uncontrolled and therefore completely random reentries,” he said by email.

Holger Kraj, head of the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office, said international best practice is to conduct a controlled reentry, targeting a distant part of the ocean, whenever the risk of casualties is too high.

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He added that the return area of ​​the missile was geographically limited between latitudes 41 degrees south and 41 degrees north of the equator.

The US Space Command said it will track the fall of the Chinese rocket to Earth, according to its spokesperson.

Depending on changing weather conditions, the exact entry point of the rocket stage into Earth’s atmosphere “can only be determined within hours of its re-entry,” the spokesperson said, but it is estimated to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere on August 1.

The 18th Space Defense Squadron, part of the US Army that tracks re-entry operations, will also provide daily updates on its location.

CNN has reached out to China’s manned space agency for comment.

Space debris weighing more than 2.2 tons is typically transported to a designated location in its first orbit around the Earth, said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

“The point is that large objects usually are not put into orbit without an active control system,” he said.

With “no active control system, no engine that could be restarted to bring it back to Earth… it rolls into orbit and eventually burns up due to friction with the atmosphere,” McDowell said. He told CNN.

Chinese missile wreckage crashed to the ground.  This is not the first time.

Last year, China came under fire for its handling of space debris after another unit launched a similar rocket. Its remains sank in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives 10 days after launch.

NASA said that China failed to do so “Meets responsible standards.”

“Space-faring nations should reduce the risks to people and property on Earth from re-entry of space objects and increase transparency regarding these operations,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at the time.

China responded to criticism blaming The United States “amplified concerns” about the re-entry of the rocket and accused US scientists and NASA of “acting against their conscience” and of being “anti-intellectual”.
in 2020, Chinese missile core – which weighs nearly 20 tons – has uncontrolled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, passing directly over Los Angeles and Central Park in New York City before eventually diving into the Atlantic Ocean.

Space junk like old satellites enter Earth’s atmosphere on a daily basis, although most of it goes unnoticed because it burns long before it hits Earth.

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Only the largest space debris – such as spacecraft and missile parts – poses a very small risk to humans and infrastructure on Earth.

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