New threat of a Chinese rocket out of control: When and where can it fall?

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  • At liftoff, the projectile was 17.8 meters long, had a diameter of 4.2 meters and weighed about 23.3 tons

New Out-of-Control Chinese Rocket Threat: When and Where Can It Land?

China launched its Long March 5B rocket this Monday from the Space Launch Center Wenchang (Hainan). With this launch, it sent the Mengtian laboratory module to the Chinese space station Tiangong. The Mengtian, together with the central module Tianhe and the Wentian-the other laboratory-, they already form the Tiangong space station, with a shape of the letter T after the connection made in this last mission.

at the end of last July, now the rocket has to re-enter the terrestrial atmosphere. And it will. this weekend, specifically at 4:17 a.m. peninsular time on Saturday, according to calculations provided by The Aerospace Corporation. At the moment, it is unknown where it will fall. Said part of the rocket, which at the time of takeoff measured 17.8 meters, had a diameter of 4.2 meters and weighed around 23.3 tons.

However, the latest update from The Aerospace Corporation, made this Wednesday, suggests that the area where it could fall is the wide central zone of the Earth, which covers practically the entire planet: from Southern Europe to the whole of Africa, passing through Australia and the entire American continent from North America to the south.

As on previous occasions, the impact zone may not be known until minutes before re-entry into Earth. Objects coming from space travel at speeds of up to 28,164 kilometers per hour, which means that an error of one hour in the re-entry time translates into an error of 28,164 km in the predicted location of the accident.


This will be the fourth time a Long March 5B rocket will enter the on Earth in an uncontrolled way. On all three previous occasions, debris fell on an inhabited area along the west coast of Africa; in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives; and in North Borneo. Fortunately, no one turned out. wounded or killed.

The Chinese space station, whose name means 'Heavenly Palace' in Mandarin, will weigh It weighs about 70 tons and is expected to function for about 15 years, orbiting about 400 kilometers from the Earth's surface.

Only space station?

By 2024, it is likely to become the world's only space station if the International Space Station, an initiative led by the United States and to which China is denied access due to military ties to its space program, withdraws that year, as is. planned.

In recent years, the Chinese space program has achieved successes such as landing the Chang'e 4 probe on the far side of the Moon -the first time it has been achieved- and It reached Mars for the first time, becoming the third country -after the United States and the former Soviet Union- to land on land.

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