On April 29, China successfully launched a team module for a space station, which it says will be completed by the end of 2022. But the first stage of the rocket that sent that block into orbit falls uncontrollably to Earth.
Launched on April 29, China’s largest rocket, Long March 5BY2, is the “Harmony of the Heavens” module. Return to Earth in a controlled landing).
However, some astronomers have predicted that some of its components could reach Earth because Long March 5b is so large.
Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at Harvard University’s Center for Astronomy, said: “This thing will break at sea.” But it is likely to hit a populated area. Then we could see some property damage and no casualties. “
This is not exactly unprecedented for China.
“This is the second rocket of this type, the Long March 5B,” McDowell said. “The first one year ago, it re-entered and caused little damage to villages along Ivory Coast. It dumped pieces of metal about 100 miles worth of land.”
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Although unprecedented, allowing countries and businesses to fall into Earth’s orbit without restraint is considered bad practice.
“Throwing large pieces of metal out of the sky is considered bad practice,” McDowell said.
At the beginning of the space age, in the 1970s, even NASA would allow things to fall out of orbit because there were contradictions in reaching Earth’s habitation. After all, this planet is more than 70 percent water.
However, all that changed in 1979 after the orbit of the 77-tonne American space station Skylop. Two pieces, large and small, reached the floor – the most famous being a part of the oxygen tank that fell to the ground In light of Australia.
“Since the late’ 80s, it has only been over 10 tons deliberately designed to re-enter unrestricted, ”McDowell said. “China is actually going to oppose what I think are established rules for a space operation. And it is not clear why they made this design decision.”
Tianhe weighs 22 tons. The rocket is 32 meters long and five meters in diameter. While it is mostly an empty tank, it has large rocket engines at one end. There, there are long, thin metal rods that were part of the fuel delivery system. It is these rods – due to their shape – that can withstand re-entry burns. This is what landed in Ivory Coast in 2020 with the other Long March 5B.
When and where
At the time of writing, Aerospace Corporation, an independent, non-profit research organization based in California, predicts re-entry time For the rocket spent – designated CZ-5B / 2021-035B – May 9, at 12:37 ET, with a margin error of about 28 hours on both sides.
The EU space surveillance and surveillance He said they were monitoring the debris and would update its orbit in the coming days.
Space #EUSST Large space object tracks the re-entry of CZ-5B R / B (2021-035B), #Tianhe a > Space station. Our sensor network is taking care of the material to reduce the expected re-entry window in the coming days.
Because it is unrestricted, the exact time and location for re-entry is often unknown.
However, there is good news for Canadians: the orbit of the rocket is 41 degrees below latitude, so this means we will not be harmed if anything can land. (Most of Canada is 49 degrees north latitude, and the southernmost point of the country is 42 degrees.)
In general, most of the debris that re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere is burned. But if that is enough, some may reach the ground or the sea.
Some may remember that A is a rocket position The SpaceX launch burned up as it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere Last month. It was found throughout Vancouver and Washington State. Some debris was able to land it, it was only a three ton rocket level.
“This is a very large phase, so the probability of debris reaching the Earth’s surface is very high,” McDowell said.
Still, there is very little that can hurt anyone with space debris. In the history of space launches, not a single death has occurred from such an incident.
“I would say, you know, don’t worry about this: this is not something an individual should worry about, because chances are you will be affected if something falls from the sky somewhere on earth. [are] Very slim, “McDowell said.
“But this should be a concern for space agencies and astronauts, and about how we can move forward. How to avoid property damage from space debris or space debris. How we recommend that large objects should not actually be allowed to re-enter this way.”