Out of control, a Chinese rocket will crash into Earth (and we don’t know where yet)

China has successfully put the first module of its space station into orbit. But the first stage of the Long March 5B rocket (which propelled it) is currently in free fall towards our planet. The impact is expected to occur around May 10, but it is not yet clear where exactly.

The Long March 5B rocket
The Chinese Long March 5B rocket

China wants to play the leading roles in space. In doing so, it has just launched the first module of its next space station from the island of Hainan. As a reminder, its construction should be completed by the end of 2022. It will then serve as a research outpost for China, becoming in fact the only operational space habitat outside the ISS.

To propel its first module, China mobilized a Long March 5B rocket. And if the first element of the Chinese station is now in orbit, the first stage of the launcher is in the process of falling back on our planet. One could then imagine that it will return to Earth in a controlled manner, like the Falcon 9 rocket. But no maneuver of this type has been carried out by Beijing. The first stage of the launcher should thus enter our atmosphere this weekend, around May 8.

Where is the first stage of Long March 5B going to crash?

And it is still impossible to predict exactly where it will drop off. What to panic the crowds, the stage of the rocket in free fall being all the same 30 meters long with a diameter of 5 meters and a weight of 20 tons. According to astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, quoted by CNN, however, there is nothing to worry about. The launcher, which will disintegrate upon entering our atmosphere, is likely to end its fall in Pacific waters, he argues.

Due to its orbital inclination, the machine would however be likely to crash in an area between New York, Madrid and Beijing to the north and to the south by Chile and Wellington. The researchers should in any case be able to anticipate the place of collision six hours before the arrival of Long March 5B on the surface of the Earth.

This isn’t the first time that an out of control Long March 5B rocket has returned to earth. In 2020, debris had crashed in particular in Côte d’Ivoire, fortunately without causing any victims. “The most serious is China’s negligence. How can we deliberately let machines over ten tons fall out of the sky without supervision? “, deplores Jonathan McDowell.

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