A Chinese missile is expected to fall out of control on July 31

The Long March 5B shortly before its launch on July 24, 2022.

The Long March 5B shortly before its launch on July 24, 2022.
picture: Liu Huayu (AP)

Experts predict that the giant core stage of the recently launched Long March 5B rocket will crash to Earth within days, but the exact location is still impossible to guess..

Long March 5B missile Exploded on July 24 From the Wenchang space launch site in Hainan. The missile was successfully delivered Wentian laboratory in low earth orbit, It docked with the Chinese space station Tiangong about 13 hours later.

Like previous launches of Long March 5Bs, the core stage — which lacks controlled re-entry provisions — went into Earth’s orbit, quickly deteriorates into it. The 25-ton (22.5 metric tons) primary stage, designated CZ-5B, prepares for uncontrolled re-entry.

Experts at the Aerospace Authority’s Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies (CORDS) I calculated the potential Time for the arrival of this stray missile body. that they I analyzed data from the US Space Force’s space monitoring network To derive the estimate, which says the rocket will return to Earth on July 31 at 7:52 a.m. UTC (3:52 a.m. ET), With an error bar plus – minus 22 hours.

“To track and predict reentries, our team uses public datasets that are generated when an object being tracked passes through an array of sensors across the planet,” Marlon Sorge, technical fellow and CEO of the space company CORDS, explained to me in an email.

The space control network Tracks objects in space using Radar and optical sensors in multiple locations around the planet. These sensors, said Sorge, “detect and track objects larger than softball in LEO and objects the size of a basketball or larger in geosynchronous orbits.” “Sensors can determine the orbit of objects, This information is used to predict the approach, return, and probability of a collision.”

The expected geographic range remains excessively high, with a possible re-entry of the missile body somewhere between 41°N and 41°S. The company said in a tweet. Aerospace company will update tracking page As the estimate is revised over time.

“Due to the uncontrolled nature of their descent, there is a non-zero probability of falling debris remaining in a populated area—more than 88 percent of the world’s population lives under the influence of potential re-entry debris,” according to Aerospace Corporation. statement. The company says that things of this size do not burn in the atmosphere Usually 20% to 40% of the total mass of a large body reaches the Earth, Depending on the object.

Normally, the primary phases do not reach orbit and are instead directed to the ocean or over sparsely populated areas. In the case of SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rocket, the first stages make a controlled vertical landing on the surface or on unmanned ships.

This will be the third time the Long March 5B core stage has entered orbit after launch and returned to Earth in an uncontrollable manner, so this feature appears to be a feature of the rocket rather than a bug. Two years ago, the wreck of a basic stage out of control It fell on a populated area along the west coast of Africawhile the debris was launched from Long March 5B last year crashed in the Indian Ocean Near the Maldives. In both cases no one was hurt but Scientists recently raised concerns That with all the rockets being fired these days, someone could be seriously injured or even killed.

“Space-faring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth as a result of re-entry of space objects and maximize transparency regarding these operations,” said Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator, at the agency. statement In the wake of the 2021 incident. “It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding space debris. It is critical that China and all space-faring nations and commercial entities act responsibly and transparently in space to ensure the long-term safety, stability, security and sustainability of outer space activities.”

China plans to launch Mengtian This space station unit October, which means we’ll be doing it again in just three months.

more: Russia says it will leave the International Space Station after 2024.

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