Experts predict that the latest piece of China’s large space junk will return to Earth at the end of the month.
The object in question is the 25-ton (22.5 metric tons) core stage of the Long March 5B rocket on Sunday (24 July) Launched into the orbit of the second unit China under construction Tiangong space station.
The rocket’s body will likely remain aloft for about a week, according to researchers at the Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Orbital and Debris Reentry Studies (CORDS). They analyzed tracking data collected by the United States space force The Space Monitoring Network predicts that the rocket body will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere around 3:30 a.m. EDT (0730 GMT) on July 31, plus or minus 22 hours.
Related: The largest spacecraft falls from space out of control
Our latest forecast for the return of the #CZ5B rocket body is: 🚀 Jul 31, 2022 07:34 UTC ± 22 hours The return will be along one of the ground trajectories shown here. It is still too early to determine a meaningful impact of the wreck. Follow this page for updates: https://t.co/SxrMtcJnj0 pic.twitter.com/MwWiF85iPI26 July 2022
These forecasts will be updated and adjusted over time. It is too early to predict where the Chinese missile will land. CORDS researchers stressed (Opens in a new tab). However, based on its orbit, we know that re-entry will occur somewhere between 41 degrees north latitude and 41 degrees south latitude. Not all of the body will burn in the earth’s air.
The Aerospace Corporation wrote in Explaining the imminent fall of the missile (Opens in a new tab). “In this case, we expect about five to nine metric tons [5.5 to 9.9 tons]. “
The base stages of most orbital-class rockets are designed to land soon after takeoff, or are steered safely out to sea or over sparsely populated sections of terra firma – or to make powered vertical landings to enable reuse, like SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and the first stages of the Falcon Heavy. But the Long March 5B nucleus reaches orbit with its payload, causing an uncontrolled crash to Earth, due to atmospheric drag, in the not-too-distant future.
We’ve seen such unguided dives on the two previous Long March 5B missions. (The missile has now launched a total of three missions.) The missile appeared on May 5, 2020. About a week later, the Long March 5B fuselage fell uncontrollably off the west coast of Africa, Apparently throwing some debris (Opens in a new tab) in the country of Ivory Coast. Long March 5B II is back over the Indian Ocean In May 202110 days after the launch of Tiangong’s base unit, which is known as Tianhe.
In addition, Tiangong 1, a space laboratory prototype that helped pave the way for the Tiangong Space Station, crashed back to Earth over the Pacific Ocean. in April 2018.
None of these incidents caused any reported injuries. But the possibility of casualties and damage to infrastructure on the ground prompted exploration experts to reprimand China for allowing it space junk Located.
“Space-faring nations should minimize the risks to people and property on Earth from re-entry of space objects and maximize transparency regarding these operations,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson wrote in a statement (Opens in a new tab) It was published shortly before the body of Long March 5B fell in Tianhe last year.
“It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards with regard to space debris,” Nelson added. “It is of paramount importance that China and all space-faring countries and commercial entities act responsibly and transparently in space to ensure the long-term safety, stability, security and sustainability of outer space activities.”
The Tiangong Space Station will eventually consist of three modules. China is expected to release the third and final unit of the Long March 5B this fall.
Mike Wall is the author of “Abroad (Opens in a new tab)Book (Great Grand Publishing House, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrials. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter Tweet embed (Opens in a new tab) or on Facebook (Opens in a new tab).
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