Out-of-control Chinese rocket expected to crash back to Earth this weekend

Out-of-control Chinese rocket will crash back to Earth on Saturday night

Tianhe 1 Launch: Long March 5B rocket that carried the main module of the China Space Station into orbit.

Long March 5B launched the China Space Station core module in April. The rocket is now coming back to Earth.

China News Service / Getty

Abandoned body A Chinese Long March 5B Rocket The Earth’s atmosphere is expected to slam on Saturday evening. Most recent an estimate Suggest the rocket body, which is tumbling at the end as it revolves around the planet, will descend into the Pacific Ocean.

The US Pentagon has been tracking the rocket body since last week. Due to the unusual rattling of the rocket body, it is difficult to predict where – exactly – a huge piece of space junk will fall back to the ground.

Aerospace.org is also tracking the rocket, and by Saturday afternoon was predicting that it would fall into the Pacific Ocean between 6 and 10 pm, although predictions are quickly changing.

Wanna see it? Gianluca Masi of Cacano, Italy succeeded in capturing an image, which he shared on his Virtual Telescope Project 2.0 website.

At the time this picture was taken, “the rocket’s stage was about 700 kilometers (434.9 mi) from our telescope, while the sun was a few degrees below the horizon, so the sky was incredibly bright,” Masi wrote. “It is huge debris (22 tons, 30 m / 98 ft long and 5 m / 16 ft wide), but it is unlikely that it can cause serious damage.”

In fact, Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University who tracks and catalogs satellite orbits, told CNN that “it will hit you that it is incredibly small. And so I am on it for a second.” Doesn’t lose sleep. ”

Because the Pacific Ocean covers so much of the Earth, debris will likely be reduced somewhere in Pacific waters, he predicted.

Rocket Helped launch TianheThe main module on April 28 in China’s new, next-generation space station. The space base is scheduled to be completed in late 2022 to be completed as a scientific research outpost for China over the next decade, and will be the only other operational space residence separate from the International Space Station.

How did this happen?

Usually, the one who goes up should come down.

Back in 2018, similar incidents occurred, when China’s out-of-control Tiangong-1 space station reestablished the atmosphere over the ocean near Tahiti. No one was injured, and the wreck either burned or found a new home on the floor of the South Pacific.

When space agencies launch large rockets, they typically do not reach orbit – they are designed to fall back into the ocean. At other times, rockets and satellites have built into the mechanism to intentionally destroy them and direct them back to Earth safely. Many have been deliberately thrown into the so-called “spacecraft cemetery,” a vast, uninhabited region of the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the farthest places on the planet from any land.

The rocket carrying Tianhe made it into orbit and once its engines stopped, it was captured by Earth’s gravity. The drag on the rocket sees its orbit slowly decaying. Each rotation around the Earth brings it closer to a point where it eventually rotates into the atmosphere at a speed – “reentry” – and burns.

However, it is not In college What comes down Space junk, missed rocket boosters, metal scraps and faux satellites can also remain in orbit for decades. About 3,000 satellites are in orbit and remain in operation, but this is about three times.

“As we launch more and more satellites into space, the problem has become progressively worse,” James Blake, an astrophysicist Ph.D. A student studying the orbital debris at the University of Warwick told CNET last November.

As of April 5, McDowell suggests that we still do not know if the boosters will decrease, but it is due on 8 or 9 May.

On April 6, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the US had “no plans to shoot down the rocket” and hoped it would “land in a place where it would not harm anyone.”

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