A 21 TON Chinese rocket tumbles to Earth and could shower debris on populated areas

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China’s 21-ton Long March 5b rocket orbiting the planet could cause the massive vehicle to crash back to Earth within days, experts warn.

The core stage launched on Thursday to deliver the nation’s first modular space station, but instead of returning to a predetermined post in the ocean, it is predicted to make an uncontrolled reentry – and possibly in a inhabited area.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer who tracks objects orbiting the Earth, said SpaceNews that the Long March 5b path takes it ‘a little further north than New York, Madrid and Beijing and as far south as southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand’, and it could be anywhere in this range Nations.

When the rocket stage falls to Earth, most of it could burn up in the atmosphere, but large chunks could survive, which could pose problems if the path leads Long March 5b into a populated area.

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China's 21-ton Long March 5b core stage rocket orbiting the planet could cause the massive vehicle to crash back to Earth within days, experts warn.  Pictured is the rocket when it was launched last week

The 21-ton rocket from China’s Long March 5b nuclear stage orbiting the planet could cause the massive vehicle to crash back to Earth within days, experts warn. Pictured is the rocket when it was launched last week

China launched Long March 5B on Thursday at 11:23 a.m. local time to deliver the first phase of the upcoming space station.

The modular, dubbed ‘Tianhe’, or ‘Harmony of the Heavens’, will become living quarters for three crew members once the massive structure is completed.

China aims to complete its Chinese space station, known as Tiangong (Heavenly Palace), by the end of 2022, state media reported, after several new modules have been launched.

However, the rocket stage was observed to move slowly and unpredictably towards Earth in recent days.

The core stage launched Thursday to deliver the first modular of the country's new space station called Tianhe.  Systems tracking space debris picked up the location of the core stage (red)

The core stage launched Thursday to deliver the first modular of the nation’s new space station called Tianhe. Systems tracking space debris picked up the location of the core stage (red)

And SpaceNews says the vehicle’s return would be one of the greatest uncontrolled descents ever.

Long March 5B is about 30 meters long and 5 meters wide, and although more than 10 tons of space debris has been left in orbit for an uncontrolled reentry, McDowell said that “ it is unacceptable by current standards to leave it uncontrolled. come ‘.

China is aware of the potential uncontrolled descent, as Holger Krag, head of the European Space Agency’s Space Safety Program Office, told SpaceNews: design of the object, but a reasonable ‘rule of thumb’ is about 20-40% of the original dry weight. ‘

China launched Long March 5B on Thursday at 11:23 a.m. local time to deliver the first phase of the upcoming space station.  The modular, dubbed 'Tianhe', or 'Harmony of the Heavens', will become living quarters for three crew members once the massive structure is completed

China launched Long March 5B on Thursday at 11:23 a.m. local time to deliver the first phase of the upcoming space station. The modular, dubbed ‘Tianhe’, or ‘Harmony of the Heavens’, will become living quarters for three crew members once the massive structure is completed

China previously launched Long March 5b in May 2020 (pictured) to test the vehicle in preparation for sending humans to the moon, but this mission also ended with an uncontrolled reentry.

China previously launched Long March 5b in May 2020 (pictured) to test the vehicle in preparation for sending humans to the moon, but this mission also ended with an uncontrolled reentry.

China previously launched Long March 5b in May 2020 to test the vehicle in preparation for sending humans to the Moon, but this mission also ended with an uncontrolled reentry.

The nuclear phase of the Long March 5B rocket was sent into space on May 5 and fell to Earth a few days later, just off the coast of West Africa.

The descent was confirmed by the 18th Space Control Squadron, a unit of the United States Air Force that tracks space debris in Earth’s orbit.

The nuclear phase of the Long March 5B rocket was sent into space on May 5 and fell to Earth a few days later, just off the coast of West Africa.  The descent was confirmed by the 18th Space Control Squadron, a unit of the United States Air Force that tracks space debris in Earth's orbit.

The nuclear phase of the Long March 5B rocket was sent into space on May 5 and fell to Earth a few days later, just off the coast of West Africa. The descent was confirmed by the 18th Space Control Squadron, a unit of the United States Air Force that tracks space debris in Earth’s orbit.

The force said it was remarkable not only for the size of the missile, but also for the size of the window of its uncontrolled descent.

This uncontrolled descent caused trackers to guess exactly where it would eventually land – with speculation it could be in the ocean or on land in Africa, the US or Australia.

Before crashing into the waters off the west coast of Mauritania, the missile core flew over Los Angeles and New York City.

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