Experts have warned that a 21-ton Chinese out-of-control missile falls to the ground and could land in populated areas.
The Chinese Long March 5b missile launched Thursday is expected to return to Earth within the next few days.
Jonathan McDowell, the astronomer who tracks objects orbiting the Earth, told SpaceNews that the route takes them “ a little north of New York, Madrid, and Beijing and as far south as southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand. ”
It can land anywhere in this range, which covers oceans and populated and uninhabited areas, but most of it will burn in the atmosphere.
Satellite trackers have detected the 100-foot-long missile traveling at more than four miles per second.
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Experts warn that the 21-ton Long March Rocket 5b orbits the planet on a path that could lead to the mega-craft crashing to Earth within the next few days. Pictured is the missile when it was launched last week
China launched Long March 5B at 11:23 a.m. local time Thursday to deliver the first phase of its upcoming space station.
The unit, called “Tianhe,” or “Harmony of the Heavens,” will become the living quarters for three crew members once the massive structure is completed.
State media have reported that China aims to complete the Chinese space station, known as Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) by the end of 2022, after launching several more modules.
When completed, the Tiangong Space Station will orbit Earth at an altitude of 211 to 280 miles.
The base stage began on Thursday to deliver the country’s first prototype unit for the country’s new space station, named Tianhe. Systems tracking space debris have captured the location of the base stage (red)
A 3D rendering of the Chinese space station, or Tiangong Space Station, where it will look when fully built. Tianhe will be the main living quarters for the three crew members. Shenzhou is an already existing spacecraft that would dock at the station with the crew. Tianzhou is an existing cargo spacecraft
It is expected to weigh between 180,000 and 220,000 pounds – roughly a fifth of the mass of the International Space Station, that’s 925,335 pounds.
China aims to become a major space power by 2030 to keep pace with competitors, including the United States, Russia and the European Space Agency, and to create the most advanced space station orbiting the Earth.
Chinese space station units
– Tianhe: The basic unit. It was launched April 29, 2021
– WentianExperience unit first. Planned to launch in 2022
– MingtianExperiment Unit II. Planned launch in 2022
– Xuntian: A space telescope unit. The planned launch in 2024 in joint orbit with the Chinese space station
The International Space Station, currently in orbit, has taken 10 years and more than 30 missions to assemble since the launch of the first module in 1998.
The International Space Station supports five participating space agencies – NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), European Space Agency (Europe), and the Canadian Space Agency (Canada) – but China was originally prevented from participating by the United States. .
However, the return of the missile could put an end to the Chinese celebration if the vehicle lands in a populated area.
Space debris trackers have noticed that it has been moving slowly and unexpectedly to Earth over the past few days, and re-entry of the spacecraft will be one of the largest uncontrolled descent ever.
Long March 5B is about 100 feet long and 16 feet wide, and although more than 10 tons of space debris has been left in orbit for uncontrolled re-entry, McDowell said, “ By current standards, it is unacceptable to allow it to re-enter unattended. ”.
China is aware of the possibility of an uncontrolled landing, Holger Krag, head of the European Space Agency’s space safety program office, told SpaceNews: “ It’s always difficult to assess the amount of mass and the number of fragments remaining without knowing the object’s design, but a reasonable ‘general rule’ is around 20. -40% of the original dry mass.
China launched Long March 5B at 11:23 a.m. local time Thursday to deliver the first phase of its upcoming space station. The module, called “Tianhe,” or “Harmony of the Heavens,” will become the living quarters for three crew members once the massive hull is completed.
China previously launched Long March 5b in May 2020 (pictured) to test the vehicle in preparation to send people to the moon, but that mission also ended with an uncensored return.
China previously launched Long March 5b in May 2020 to test the vehicle in preparation to send people to the moon, but this mission also ended with the return of uncensored entry.
The base stage of the Long March 5B missile was sent into space on May 5 and fell to Earth a few days later, off the coast of West Africa.
Its descent has been confirmed by the 18th Space Control Squadron, a US Air Force unit that tracks space debris in Earth’s orbit.
The base stage of the Long March 5B missile was sent into space on May 5 and fell to Earth a few days later, off the coast of West Africa. Its descent has been confirmed by the 18th Space Control Squadron, a US Air Force unit that tracks space debris in Earth’s orbit.
The force said it was not just a matter of the size of the missile but also of its uncontrolled landing window.
This uncontrolled landing left trackers guessing exactly where it would land in the end – with speculation that it could be in the ocean or on land in Africa, the United States, or Australia.
Before the missile fell in the waters off the west coast of Mauritania, the core flew over Los Angeles and New York City.
China is advancing its plans to become a super space power with missions of Mars and the Moon
Officials from the Chinese Space Agency are working to become a superpower in space alongside the United States and Russia.
They’ve already sent out the first lander to explore the far side of the moon – sharing photos from part of our closest neighbor we rarely see as part of the Chang’e-4 mission.
In November 2020, they sent the Chang’e-5 space probe to the moon to collect and return the first samples of lunar soil 45 years ago.
This was done in cooperation with the European Space Agency, which provided tracking information for the Chinese spaceship.
Chang’e-6 will be the first mission to explore the south pole of the moon and it is expected to launch in 2023 or 2024.
Chang’e-7 will study the Earth’s surface, composition and space environment in a comprehensive mission, according to the China Space Authority, while Chang’e-8 will focus on surface technical analysis.
China is also reportedly working on building a lunar base using 3D printing technology and sending a future manned mission to the surface.
Task 8 is likely to lay the groundwork for this as it strives to verify the technology assigned to the project.
CNSA is also building a space station orbiting the Earth where Chinese astronauts will conduct scientific experiments, similar to the International Space Station crew.
The agency also launched a mission to Mars in the summer of 2020 that will see it land on the surface of the Red Planet in February 2021.
China is also said to be working on a project to build a solar power generator in space that would send energy back to Earth and become the largest man-made object in orbit.
They also have a number of ambitious space science projects including satellites to search for signs of gravitational waves and Earth observation spacecraft to monitor climate change.