Sunday, 24 October, 2021

No danger from falling rocket, assures China

Massive piece of Chinese rocket barrelling out of control toward Earth The National2 days ago2:02 Massive piece of Chinese rocket barrelling out of control toward Earth The National2 days ago2:02
Deanna Wagner | 08 May, 2021, 02:38

American Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the Pentagon has no plans to shoot down an out -of-control Chinese rocket now tumbling towards Earth.

The rocket successfully launched the Tianhe module last week, which will become the living quarters of the future Chinese Space Station (CSS).

In an attempt to develop new materials and promote the study of bioscience, China is scheduled to continue sending modules to complete the construction of the nation's first space station, named Tiangong, by the end of 2022. The rocket is more likely than not to land in an ocean.

China's Long March 5B Y2 carrier rocket, the one that carried Tianhe Space Module into space, is heading back home this weekend.

"At the imaging time, the rocket stage was at about 700 km (435 miles) from our telescope, while the Sun was just a few degrees below the horizon, so the sky was incredibly bright: these conditions made the imaging quite extreme, but our robotic telescope succeeded in capturing this huge debris", Gianluca Masi, an astronomer with the Virtual Telescope Project, explained in a post. The problem is, that as of Thursday, no one seems to know.

"The probability of causing harm to aviation activities and on the ground is extremely low", he said, adding, "The relevant competent authorities will promptly report the situation". McDowell told CNN that pinpointing where debris could be headed is nearly impossible because of the speed the rocket is traveling - even slight changes in circumstance drastically change the trajectory.

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"Drag will slow the object causing loss of altitude, bringing it down into denser atmosphere, which in turn causes more drag and further loss of velocity and altitude", Jason Herrin of the Earth Observatory Singapore, told the BBC. Its orbit covers a swath of the planet from New Zealand to Newfoundland.

"I completely agree, no reason for panic", McDowell tweeted, responding to a Chinese state media article about the rocket.

It's roughly 100 feet long and and would be among the biggest pieces of space debris to fall to Earth. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Wednesday the entire body of the rocket is "almost intact".

The newspaper Global Times, published by the Chinese Communist Party, said that the stage's "thin-skinned" aluminum alloy exterior will easily burn up in the atmosphere and that the risk to people on the surface is extremely remote.

The rocket that fell last May was the heaviest debris to fall uncontrolled since the former Soviet space station Salyut 7 in 1991.

China's first space station, Tiangong-1, crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 2016 after Beijing confirmed it had lost control. The process is like throwing a stone out, you know where it flew from and how much power you use, so you know where it will land.

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