China discounts possibility of harm from falling rocket

China discounts possibility of harm from falling rocket

China discounts possibility of harm from falling rocket

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Thursday that the USA military had no plans to shoot it down.

The launch of the first module of its "Heavenly Palace" space station in April was a milestone in Beijing's ambitious plan to establish a permanent human presence in space.

China's state-run Global Times offered no pretense that Chinese scientists have any control over the rapidly descending core section of the huge Long March-5B rocket, or took any precautions to predict where it might impact the Earth.

The rocket is among the largest pieces of space debris to ever fall to earth.

USA experts have expressed concern over the rocket that will make an uncontrolled re-entry.

Song claimed China's "space monitoring network" will keep a close eye on the falling rocket and "take necessary measures if any damage would occur to passing ships", but in reality the impact region will not be known with any precision until just hours before the debris comes down.

He pointed out that the Chinese rocket is slowly approaching Earth's surface, and is now about 160 km away, while on Friday, it was 250 km away from the surface of Jordan, meaning it has entered the atmosphere therefore increasing burning and brightness.

Astronomers Capture Bright Image of China’s Tumbling Rocket Core
A Long March 5B rocket launching into orbit. Source CASS

Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said the issue of a uncontrolled re-entry is one that is "only a big problem with the Long March 5B".

"The probability of causing harm to aviation activities or (on people and activities) on the ground is extremely low", foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said. 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.

The non-profit Aerospace Corp. expects the debris to hit the Pacific near the equator after passing over eastern USA cities.

The chances of your house, or your head, getting hit by a piece of debris from space are super small. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Wednesday the entire body of the rocket is "almost intact". A Chinese expert stated that the rocket's homecoming is a "fully-controlled" process and not a cause for worry. The parts that don't burn up completely will remain and fall to Earth.

"Bottom Line = Don't panic", the Space Track website, through which the 18th Space Control Squadron is providing updates on the rocket's location, tweeted.

China's first space station, Tiangong-1, crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 2016 after Beijing confirmed it had lost control. In 2019, the space agency controlled the demolition of its second station, Tiangong-2, in the atmosphere.

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