Monday, May 3, 2021

Out-of-Control Chinese Rocket Could Hit You This Week

The core stage of the Chinese Long 5 Rocket is due to crash back on Earth sometime this week;  it could follow the trajectory of this nearly identical out-of-control rocket that was tracked here last May. The blue and yellow lines show the path traveled by the 2020 rocket. Early forecasts that the rocket would crash in the south Indian Ocean were off by thousands of miles.  Image: The Aerospace Corporation


An out-of-control spent rocket launched by China in recent days is racing back towards Earth and what’s left of it is expected to impact Earth at some point in the coming days.  Nearly on the one year anniversary of a similar event that unfolded last year on May 11 by the identical rocket type, the U.S. government is once again monitoring the skies for the potential impact of this space junk. Because it is out of control and moving erratically, experts aren’t sure exactly where it will land until an hour or two before it does; because it’s moving at speeds of over 15,000 mph, it may be too late to warn people of the impending impact zone.

China launched the giant rocket on Thursday from Hainan Island. Image: CCTV
China launched the giant rocket on Thursday from Hainan Island. Image: CCTV

On Thursday, the Long March 5B, a variant of China’s largest rocket, launched the 22.5-metric-ton Tianhe module for a space station China is building. Unable to participate in the International Space Station (ISS) due to restrictions imposed by the United States, China has embarked on building their own called “Tiangong.” Construction on the space station is due to be completed by sometime next year, with 10 more major launches planned this year to bring components of the station to space. With the ISS due to be retired after 2024, Tiangong may remain  as the only working  space station in Earth’s orbit.

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