Fears are growing that massive debris from Chinese rocket could crash into populated parts of the US this weekend
Chinese state media have dismissed concerns as “sour grapes” and claimed to have an “impeccable security record” despite some analysis suggesting an earlier re-entry damaged buildings in Côte d’Ivoire.
Concerns are growing that the uncontrolled re-entry of a Massive debris from Chinese rocket into Earth’s atmosphere could spread debris across populated parts of the US.
The Long March 5B booster is too big to burn on the way in and will break apart, potentially throwing chunks of metal to the ground at full speed.
According to the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies (CORDS), “more than 88% of the world’s population lives under the potential footprint of reentry debris.”
CORDS experts from the Aerospace Corporation have warned.
In the case of the Long March booster, which weighs 23 metric tons, this means that between 4.6 and 9.2 metric tons will reach Earth, the equivalent of a dozen 1963 Volkswagen Beetle cars.
In a question-and-answer session on the Aerospace Corporation blog, the company said the booster is one of the largest objects to re-enter Earth after reaching orbit.
Most of the time, rocket boosters are not designed to reach orbit, but to launch their payloads into orbit while landing in a safe location.
When spacecraft go out of orbit, it’s usually done in a controlled way, with the engines firing to put the craft into Earth’s orbit and choose where it will land, often the so-called “spacecraft graveyard” at Point Nemo in the Pacific Ocean.
This is known as controlled re-entry where operators can select the last landing point and debris footprint.