Out of control Chinese rocket set to crash into Earth this weekend
It sounds like the plot of a Bruce Willis movie: The Pentagon says it’s tracking a large Chinese rocket body that’s out of control and is expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere this weekend. The problem? While we do know the large rocket body is falling … we don’t know exactly where it will happen.
Howard said the exact point of entry for the rocket will only be known within hours of reentry, but daily updates on its location will be provided to the Space Track website.
Aerospace.org is also rocket tracking, and as of Tuesday night, expected an arrival on May 8, around 9:30 p.m. PT – although forecasts may change.
I want to see that? Gianluca Masi from Ceccano, Italy, managed to capture an image, which he shared on his Virtual Telescope Project 2.0 website.
At the time the image was taken, “the rocket stage was about 700 kilometers (434.9 miles) from our telescope, while the sun was a few degrees below the horizon, so the sky was incredibly bright, ”Masi wrote. “This is huge debris (22 tons, 30 meters / 98 feet long and 5 meters / 16 feet wide), but it is unlikely that it could cause serious damage.”
In fact, Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard University’s Center for Astrophysics who tracks and catalogs satellite orbits, told CNN that “the risk of it hitting you is incredibly small. And so I wouldn’t lose. not a second of sleep on this. ”
Because the Pacific Ocean covers a large part of the Earth, debris is likely to splash somewhere in the waters of the Pacific, he said.
McDowell has also adjusted the period during which the debris should arrive.
The rocket, the base module of China’s new next-generation space station, on April 28. The space base is expected to be completed in late 2022 to serve as a scientific research outpost for China for the next decade, and it will be the only other operational space habitat outside the Space Station. international.
How did it happen?
As a general rule, what goes up must come down.
In 2018, similar events took place, when the uncontrollable Chinese space station Tiangong-1 re-entered the atmosphere over the ocean near Tahiti. No one was injured and the debris burned down or found a new home on the South Pacific soil.
When space agencies launch large rockets, they usually don’t reach orbit – they’re designed to fall back into the ocean. Other times, rockets and satellites have built in mechanisms to deliberately desorb them and guide them safely to Earth. Many were deliberately dumped in the so-called “spaceship graveyard,” a large uninhabited area of the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the most remote places on the planet from any earth.
The rocket that carried Tianhe put it into orbit and once its engines stopped, was captured by Earth’s gravity. Dragging on the rocket sees its orbit slowly disintegrate. Each rotation around the Earth brings it closer to a point where it ends up crashing rapidly into the atmosphere – “reentering” – and burning.
However, it is not fair on what’s going on. Space debris, abandoned rocket boosters, metal scraps and missing satellites can remain in orbit for years, even decades. Almost 3,000 satellites are in orbit and remain in service, but almost three times that number are out of date.
“As we launched more and more satellites into space, the problem gradually got worse,” said James Blake, a PhD astrophysicist. a University of Warwick student studying orbital debris, told CNET last November.
As of April 5, McDowell suggests that we still don’t know where the recall will go down, but its return is likely to happen on May 8 or 9.
On April 6, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the United States “has no plan to bring down the rocket” and hopes it “lands in a place where it does not harm anyone.” .
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