The Pentagon has said it is tracking a large Chinese rocket that is uncontrollable and set to enter Earth’s atmosphere this weekend, raising concerns over the impact of its debris
China’s Long March 5B rocket is expected to enter Earth’s atmosphere “around May 8,” according to a statement from Department of Defense spokesman Mike Howard, who said US Space Command is following the rocket’s path.
The “exact point of entry of the rocket into Earth’s atmosphere” cannot be identified until hours after re-entry, Howard said, but the 18th Space Control Squadron will provide daily updates on the location of the rocket. rocket ship via Space Track website The rocket was used by the Chinese to launch part of their space station last week As most space debris burns in the atmosphere, the size of the rocket – 22 tons – has raised concerns that large pieces could fit in and cause damage if they hit inhabited areas
But Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard University’s Center for Astrophysics, told CNN the situation was “not the end of days.”
“I don’t think people should take precautions The risk of it being damaged or hitting someone is pretty low – not insignificant it could happen – but the risk of it hitting you is incredibly small And so I wouldn’t waste a second of sleep over this personal threat, ”he said.
McDowell explained that pinpointing where the debris could be headed is nearly impossible at this point due to the speed of the rocket’s travel – even slight changes in circumstances drastically alter the trajectory.
“We expect him to come home between May 8th and 10th And during that two day period he goes around the world 30 times The thing is traveling at around 18,000 miles an hour And so if you have a hour to guess when it falls, you are 18,000 miles away to say where “
“And so you shouldn’t believe anybody who tells you, ‘Oh yeah, I heard it was going down in this particular place,'” McDowell added. “Don’t believe them at least a few hours before school starts, because we just won’t know in advance “
Still, the ocean remains the safest bet for where the debris will land, he said, simply because it occupies most of the Earth’s surface.
“If you want to bet on where something will land on Earth, you bet on the Pacific, because the Pacific is most of the Earth. It’s that simple, ”McDowell said
The concern over space debris comes after China launched the first module of its scheduled space station Thursday morning from the Wenchang launch site on the southern island of Hainan, according to China’s National Space Administration
The Chinese space station will not launch at the same time; it will be assembled from several modules launched at different times Chinese state media reports that the country’s space station will be fully operational by the end of 2022
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a Long March 5B rocket carrying a module for a Chinese space station takes off from the Wenchang spacecraft launch site in Wenchang, Hainan Province, in southern China on Thursday, April 29, 2021 (Ju Zhenhua / Xinhua / AP / CNN)
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Ebene News – CA – Pentagon tracks down uncontrollable Chinese rocket that could enter Earth’s atmosphere