Chinese missile: An uncontrolled return to Earth is scheduled for this weekend

The Asian country has it It placed on April 29 into orbit the first unit of its space stationThanks to the Longue-Marche 5B carrier rocket, China’s most powerful launcher.

It is the first stage of this missile, currently in orbit, that should return to Earth. It is gradually losing its height and its fall point is not currently known.

China is very cautious about this issue and has not released any forecasts about the possibility of the launcher returning to Earth’s atmosphere every hour, as it should completely or partially disintegrate.

For the Russian space agency Roscosmos, entry is possible on Saturday at 7:30 pm (EST) across southern Indonesia. The Pentagon expects 7 p.m. with a nine-hour margin of error on either side of that estimate.

The window should recede gradually over a period of hours.

After an embarrassing long silence from Chinese space and diplomatic authorities, Beijing finally responded on Friday.

Majority of ingredients [de la fusée] It will be burned and destroyed upon return to the atmosphere […] Potential to cause harm to aviation activities or [aux personnes, constructions et activités] Down to earth very low.

Quote from:Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry

Chinese media provided minimal coverage of the event on Saturday, and contented themselves with repeating the statements made by a diplomatic spokesperson the day before.

If parts of the rocket remain intact after re-entering the atmosphere, there is a high chance that they will be damaged at sea because 70% of the planet is water.

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We hope they land somewhere where they don’t harm anyoneOn Friday, US Defense Department spokesman Mike Howard said, noting that the United States was tracking the missile.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed this week that his country has no intention of destroying the missile. However, he hinted that its launch had not been carefully planned by China.

According to several experts interviewed by Agence France-Presse, the risk of debris falling from a heavy launch pad onto a populated area exists, but it is unlikely.

Given the size of the object, there are bound to be large chunks remainingFlorent Delphi, an astronomer at the PSL Paris Observatory, predicts.

But the probability of an impact on a populated area is Very small, less than one in a million, probablyNicholas Popriensky, head of engineering and innovation at the European Space Agency (ESA), reassures.

Don’t worry too muchJonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, in the United States, who specializes in space debris, also notes.

But the fact that a ton of metal splinters hit the ground at speeds of hundreds of kilometers per hour is not a good practice, and China should revise the design of the Long March 5B missions to avoid this.

Precedents

In 2020, the debris of another Longue-Marche missile crashed into villages in Côte d’Ivoire, causing damage but no injuries.

In April 2018, the Chinese space laboratory Tiangong-1 disintegrated when it entered the atmosphere, two years after it was out of service.

China has invested billions of euros in its space program for several decades.

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The Asian country sent its first astronaut into space in 2003. In early 2019, he landed with a machine on the far side of the moon, the first in the world.

Last year, he brought samples from the moon and terminated the Beidou navigation satellite system (a competitor of the US GPS).

China plans to land a robot on Mars in the coming weeks. It also announced that it wants to build a lunar base with Russia.

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