Beijing says the uncontrolled re-entry of rocket debris poses a danger to anyone on the ground.
The remains of a large Chinese rocket are expected to streak through the atmosphere this weekend in an unprovoked re-entry that Beijing says it is closely monitoring but poses little risk to anyone on Earth.
A long March 5B rocket blasted off Sunday to deliver a factory module to the new Chinese space station under construction in orbit, marking the third flight of China’s most powerful rocket since its maiden 2020 launch.
As it happened in its first two flights, the main stage of the entire rocket – which is 100 feet (30 meters) long and weighs 22 tons (48,500 pounds) – has already reached a low orbit and is expected to rush back to Earth once atmospheric friction. pulls down, according to American experts.
Ultimately, the rocket’s body will be released to sink through the atmosphere, but it is large enough that numerous chunks of fire are likely to survive re-entry to rain debris over an area some 2,000km (1,240 miles) long, about 70km (44 miles) long, independent US-based analysts said on Wednesday. .
The probable location of the debris field cannot be determined in advance, with experts narrowing down the potential impact zone closer to entry days in advance.
The last track data available for re-entry will occur at approximately 00:24 GMT on Sunday, more or less 16 hours, according to Corp Aerospace, a government-funded non-profit research center near Los Angeles.
Danger, ‘low old man’;
The overall risk to people and property on Earth is quite low, given that 75 percent of the Earth’s surface is potentially obstructed by water, desert or jungle, Aerospace analyst Ted Muelhaupt told reporters in a news briefing.
However, there is a possibility for parts of the rocket to fall through a populated area, as they did in May 2020, when fragments of another Chinese Long March 5B landed in the Ivory Coast, damaging many buildings in the West African nation, although there were no injuries. reported, said Muelhaupt.
On the other hand, he said, the United States and most other space-faring nations generally have to pay extra to design their rockets to avoid large, uncontrolled re-launches — an imperative widely observed since NASA’s massive space station Skylab landed in Australia in 1979.
Overall, the odds of someone being injured or killed this weekend by a rocket mine fell from one-in-1,000 to one-in-230, well above the internationally accepted risk threshold of one-in-10,000, reporters said.
But the risk for any individual is much lower, on the order of six cases per 10 trillion. By comparison, he said, the differences from heaven were about eight hundred thousand greater.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the probability of damage to aviation or people and property on the ground is very low. He said most parts of the re-entry rocket had to be destroyed.
Last year, NASA and others accused China of being opaque after the Beijing government kept quiet about the estimated debris trajectory or the re-entry window for the last long Mars rocket flight in May 2021.
Obstacles from that flight ended up landing harmlessly in the Indian Ocean.
A few hours after Zhao spoke on Wednesday, China’s Manned Space Agency (CMSA) gave an update on its latest rocket in a rare public announcement. As of 4pm (08:00 GMT), the agency said the rocket was moving in an elliptical orbit that was 263.2km (163.5 miles) high at its last position and 176.6km (109.7 miles) high at its closest.
No estimated re-entry details were given by CMSA on Wednesday.
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