The U-watch is approaching the runaway Chinese rocket in space, which is expected to crash somewhere on Earth this weekend. In the United States, they hope that debris will fall into the ocean, but there’s also a chance that this will happen on land. In this case, the Americans will not launch the missile from the sky. One thing is for sure: debris won’t fall on your head. Belgium is not in the danger zone. Parts of Spain, Italy and Greece do.
Tony Van Der Mai, ADN
AD.nl, Belga, ANP
Days ago, the Chinese Long March 5B missile was stirring emotions. The missile was launched from Hainan Island on April 29. It was the first of eleven missions to build a new permanent Chinese space station. On board the rocket was a Tianhe unit, which is a living space for three astronauts.
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This week it became clear that the Chinese space agency had lost control of the core of the rocket. After launch, the design of the missile simply does not allow the vehicle to collapse at a certain point.
The 30-meter Long March 5B core is racing around Earth at an altitude of 200 kilometers at speeds of more than 25,000 kilometers per hour (7 kilometers per second). This is much faster than most space rockets, which return to a predetermined location on Earth.
How, where and when?
It is unclear how, where, and when the runaway rocket core will enter the atmosphere. The giant gradually loses its height, but because it is orbiting so rapidly around the Earth, it is difficult to predict the exact location of the recording in the atmosphere. This would become known only a few hours ago. It is also unclear how much of the fragment will burn, and thus how many debris, how much it will descend, nor how the scattered pieces will fall.
At this location, the missile’s current trajectory can be traced and the calculated future path around the Earth can be viewed as well. The Americans very much hoped that the missile parts would shatter into the ocean. According to the latest forecasts, this will likely happen Saturday night, says Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
The United States is monitoring the situation closely. “We are watching the core of the missile,” Austin said at a news conference at the Pentagon. “We have no intention of shooting him at this stage,” he added. It is our hope that the missile parts will end up in a place where they will not harm anyone. Hopefully in the ocean or somewhere else. ”
south of Europe
Aerospace Corp expects the missile components to land in the Pacific Ocean near the equator after the missile has passed several cities in the eastern United States. This would be between 41 degrees north latitude and 41 degrees south latitude: north in New York or Madrid or Beijing or south like Chile or Wellington in New Zealand.
According to the European Space Agency (ESA), debris could actually land in Europe, possibly in southern Europe. Parts of Spain, Italy and Greece are in the danger zone identified by the specialists.
But debris could also end up elsewhere along this strip, such as the sea. Given the size of the oceans, the probability of space debris getting into sea water is very high.
Most of the missile components will burn on re-entry. It is different in this case, says Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard University. It is believed that some dangerous parts will escape from combustion and crash to the ground. McDowell expects the core of the 21-ton missile to shatter in “rain of debris,” similar to a small plane crash. The debris will then fall in the area of 100 miles (about 161 km).
The Chinese say that everything will be better than expected. A US State Department spokesman said at a press conference on Friday that it was “extremely unlikely” that the core of the missile would cause damage in the air or on the ground. According to Beijing, there is nothing to worry about – “the missile will burn and be destroyed upon return” – and an early warning can always be given.
Chinese tabloid newspaper Global Times The claim that the missile was released from a large scale describes “western fuss.” Sources say it is “not worth panic”. Most of the debris will be burned. Said Wang Yanan, editor-in-chief of the magazine Space knowledge.
Every year 150 tons of space debris fall to Earth. There were casualties, but no deaths. Last year, another Long March 5B missile crashed in Ivory Coast. Several homes were damaged in the process, and McDowell said earlier, “We were fortunate that no one was injured at that time.”
According to McDowell, most countries have made spacecraft safer to avoid uncontrolled collisions with Earth. This happened after large parts of NASA’s Skylab space station crashed in Australia in July 1979. So McDowell accuses the Chinese of neglect. “It seems that the Chinese missile designers were lazy, and they did not handle this matter. It is irresponsible.”
Washington also complains that international agreements require such missiles to be returned to the ocean in a controlled manner while their last fuel is used.
China is busy with space projects and if a Chinese space station is operational, it may be the only station in the future. After more than twenty busy years, the ISS is now “worn out” and looks forward to recent years.
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