Chinese rocket expected to reenter

Chinese rocket expected to reenter

Chinese rocket expected to reenter

Space-Track, using U.S. military data, tweeted that the window for re-entry is now predicted to be 0104-0304 GMT Sunday, but cautioned that the uncertainty about the timing made the location hard to pinpoint.

Re-entry is expected to happen 60 minutes either side of 2.11pm New Zealand time on Sunday, according to forecasts.

"The probability of causing harm. on the ground is extremely low", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on Friday.

Space-Track, reporting data collected by US Space Command, estimated the debris would land in the North Atlantic Ocean, but said on Twitter that re-entry location estimates were largely uncertain.

Harvard-based astronomer Jonathan McDowell tweeted on Saturday: "New 18SPCS Space Force prediction narrows things down to one orbit: Costa Rica, Haiti, Iberia, Sardinia, Italy, Greece and Crete, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Australia, New Zealand".

Traveling at a speed of around 4.8 miles per second, a difference of just one minute in the time of reentry translates to hundreds of miles difference on the ground.

A Long March-5B rocket launched the first module of China's new space station into Earth's orbit on April 29.

Long March 5B rockets are key to China's immediate space ambitions, with plans to use them for delivery of the modules and crew of the space station, to launches of exploratory probes to the Moon and even Mars.

China's space agency has yet to say whether the main stage of the huge Long March 5B rocket is being controlled or will make an out-of-control descent.

The Long March launched last week was the second deployment of the 5B variant since its maiden flight in May a year ago. No injuries were reported.

While any debris that does make it through will most likely fall into the ocean or onto areas of uninhabited land, it is possible some could fall over inhabited areas. In late April, authorities in the city of Shiyan, Hubei Province, issued a notice to people in the surrounding county to prepare for evacuation as parts were expected to land in the area.

It is uncommon for rockets to reach the velocity necessary to reach orbit, but it is now travelling around the world once every 90 minutes, or seven kilometres every second.

"The empty rocket body is now in an elliptical orbit around Earth, where it is being dragged toward an uncontrolled re-entry".

The 18-ton rocket that fell last May was the heaviest debris to fall uncontrolled since the former Soviet space station Salyut 7 in 1991.

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