This week we’ve kept a cautious eye skyward following reports that China’s Long March 5B rocket was re-entering the atmosphere in an uncontrolled re-entry, and nobody had a clue as to were it would land.
The good news is that US Space Command is tracking the rocket. The bad news is, US Space Command doesn’t know where Long March 5B will crash.
“U.S. Space Command is aware of and tracking the location of the Chinese Long March 5B in space, but its exact entry point into the Earth’s atmosphere cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its reentry, which is expected around 8th May,” the organisation wrote.
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As of Thursday afternoon the Long March 5B rocket was over the Pacific Ocean, but where it will eventually land is of course still an unknown.
What makes the rocket’s situation all the more precarious is it’s size and the fact that it’s re-entry is said to be uncontrolled. According to a report from The Guardian, “the Global Times newspaper, published by the Chinese Communist party, has claimed the rocket’s ‘thin-skinned’ aluminium-alloy exterior will easily burn up in the atmosphere, posing an extremely remote risk to people.”
Unfortunately verifying that will only take place, once the rocket enters the atmosphere.
However, experts appear to think that parts of the rocket will survive re-entry and that’s a massive risk.
“Last time they launched a Long March 5B rocket they ended up with big long rods of metal flying through the sky and damaging several buildings in the Ivory Coast,” astrophysicist at Harvard University told the Guardian.
This entire affair highlights the growing problem of space debris in orbit around us.
It’s hard to understand the scope of the problem, but Celestrak gives you a good idea of how many objects are circling us right now.
As for Long March 5B, keep an eye out at the weekend for news of its re-entry and here’s hoping it hits the ocean or an uninhabited location.
[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]