A massive Chinese rocket will come crashing back to Earth this weekend, and despite the space object being only hours away from reentry, nobody really knows the exact time and where the fiery projectile will return to the planet.
The 10-story, 23-ton piece of booster rocket will plummet back to Earth a week after it was launched by the Chinese government. The rocket is part of the Long March 5B spacecraft, comprised of one core stage and four boosters, which launched from China’s Hainan island on April 29. The unmanned craft ferried the core stage of the T-shaped space station Tianhe or “Harmony of the Heavens,” which is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
China launched a module named ‘Tianhe,’ or ‘Harmony of the Heavens,’ that will become living quarters for crew on a… https://t.co/b4vH065ehM
— Reuters (@Reuters)1619734200.0
The Chinese rocket will smash back to Earth in an “uncontrolled reentry.” On Friday, China’s foreign ministry said most of the debris from the rocket will burn up during re-entry and is highly unlikely to cause any harm.
The Pentagon said the descent of the Chinese rocket was being tracked by U.S. Space Command.
“The U.S. Space Command on Saturday estimated re-entry would occur at 0204 GMT on Sunday, plus or minus one hour, while the Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies (CORDS) at Aerospace Corporation, a U.S. federally funded space-focused research and development center, updated its prediction to four hours either side of 0330 GMT on Sunday,” Reuters reported.
EU Space Surveillance and Tracking said the chances of the rocket hitting populated areas is “low,” but cautioned that uncontrolled reentries come with “uncertainties.”
The latest update by EU SST stated that the rocket would likely make its reentry 139 minutes before or after 02:32 GMT on Sunday.
Here are the latest estimates as to when and where the Chinese rocket will crash on Earth.
⚠️Last update before re-entry: #EUSST estimates that object CZ-5B R/B will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere on 2021-… https://t.co/BMcX3zeIKj
— EUSST (@EUSST)1620499428.0
UPDATE Our latest prediction for #LongMarch5B CZ-5B rocket body reentry is 🚀 09 MAY 2021 03:02 UTC ± 2 hours along… https://t.co/rXEcVRavrI
— The Aerospace Corporation (@The Aerospace Corporation)1620513474.0
3/ #LongMarch5B Reentry Prediction Legend: https://t.co/ZJZeO7TeKB
— The Aerospace Corporation (@The Aerospace Corporation)1620513475.0
Notice the uncertainty window of /- 60 minutes.
At 7.8 km/s, just 1 minute early/late in the time of reentry = 47… https://t.co/1iP9tkiFeQ
— Space-Track (@Space-Track)1620505934.0
The Federal Aviation Administration is working with the North American Aerospace Defense Command to track the Chinese rocket to keep planes safe during the space object’s reentry.
“The FAA is engaged with NORAD and will send out an advisory to any facilities that would be potentially impacted. Tactical decisions, if needed, will be made based on real-time information,” an FAA spokesperson told Fox Business.