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Chinese rocket falls back to Earth: The chances it will reach us

Will Chinese rocket piece fall around May 8?

After a Chinese rocket was sent into space at the end of April, debris is indeed coming back to Earth.

However, the probability that they will injure an inhabitant is very low.

Chinese rocket falls back to Earth: The chances it will reach us


Will the sky fall?

Debris from a Chinese Long March B rocket, namely the 21 tons of the launcher's center stage.

It could make an uncontrolled re-entry to Earth around May 8, according to the US Airforce Space Command Center.

But the probability that a piece of the Chinese launcher will crash on your house is actually almost zero.

As Florent Deleflie, astronomer explains.

Uncontrolled re-entries of space debris are a common practice in the space industry: "we count about one such re-entry per week", says Florent Deleflie.

Most debris ends up, namely in the ocean or in sparsely populated areas.

On April 29, the Long March B launcher was used to put into orbit the first module of the new Chinese space station Tiangong.

The size is nearly 30 meters, and the weight, 21 tons of the rocket the stage that will enter the atmosphere.

Which are more important than those usually observed for other space debris, Florent Deleflie concedes.

But all this does not seem to worry the astronomer for whom the collision with a human being is too much unlikely.

"In the history of space conquest, it has never happened," he says.

The information is confirmed by several sites specialized in space issues.

At the end of April, China sent a rocket into space, and a large piece of the rocket is well on its way back to Earth.

This 20-ton piece is moving at 27,000 km/h and its trajectory can even be followed online.

According to experts, this rocket piece could enter the atmosphere on May 8 or 9 Mai.

However, no one can yet predict where it will land, as the craft no longer seems to be controlled by China.

 In the United States, even the Pentagon has confirmed that it is following the trajectory of this debris.


Little risk of being injured

The risk of being hit and injured by this debris is however extremely low.

Even if the zero risk does not exist, two scientific reasons can reassure us.

The planet Earth being made of 70% of water, there is a great chance that the remains of the rocket will land in the water.

In addition, this piece of rocket will be largely destroyed in the atmosphere.

According to the specialists it should be consumed at 80% to 90%.


Not the only space debris to return to Earth

This event is not at all surprising since, we count re-entries of space objects every four days on Earth without any particular incident.

This piece of Chinese rocket is however one of the biggest to return on Earth.

A precedent explains part of the concerns.:

China sent before this type of rocket (Long March 5B), long metal rods had fallen back to Côte d'Ivoire, but without causing any injuries.


Risks, even in the ocean

However, the whole world remains on the lookout.

The United States said Wednesday it is tracking the launcher.

Therefore is not ruling out the possibility that the debris could crash into a populated area.

We're hoping it will fall somewhere where it won't hurt person, in the ocean or someplace like that. "

While the Earth is 70 percent water, which greatly minimizes the risk of impacts with disastrous consequences.

They could also crash into a populated area or a ship.


Beijing and the Pentagon are reassuring

The Pentagon is closely following the trajectory of this 20-meter long and as heavy as ton debris.

The possibility that it falls on a populated territory is extremely low. But not excluded.

If at first the Chinese space and diplomatic authorities remained silent, Beijing finally reacted this Friday, May 7.

That indicating that the risk of a crash on inhabited territory was "extremely low".

"The majority of the components of the rocket will be burned and destroyed during the reentry into the atmosphere."

According to Wang Wenbin; the spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


China used to lose control

This is not the first time China has lost control of a space object during a return to Earth.

In April 2018, the Tiangong-1 space laboratory had disintegrated when it entered the atmosphere, two years after it had stopped working.

The authorities of China had denied having lost squarely control of the laboratory.

China has been investing billions of Euros in the space program for numerous decades.

 It had sent its first astronaut in space in 2003.

At the beginning of 2019, it succeeded in landing a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon - a world first.

During the last year, the rocket brought back samples from the Moon and finalized Beidou, its satellite navigation system.

According to the competitor to the American GPS, China plans to land a robot on Mars next month.

Besides that, it has also announced that it wants to build a lunar base with Russia.

In English CSS and in Chinese Tiangong "Celestial Palace", the future Chinese space station will evolve in low earth orbit for 10-50 years.


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