It sounds like the plot of a Bruce Willis movie: The Pentagon said in a statement Tuesday that it was tracking a large Chinese rocket that is out of control and is expected to enter Earth’s atmosphere this weekend. The US space command is following the trajectory, said Defense Department spokesman Mike Howard in a statement quoted by CNN and expects the appearance of the Chinese Long March 5B rocket “around May 8”.
Howard said the rocket’s exact entry point will not be known until a few hours after reentry, but daily updates on its location will be provided on the Space Track website.
Aerospace.org is also tracking the rocket, and on Tuesday night expected an arrival on May 8, around 9:30 p.m. PT – although forecasts may change.
But don’t panic. Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University, told CNN, “The risk of him hitting you is incredibly small. And so I wouldn’t waste a second of sleep over it. ”
Because the Pacific Ocean covers a large part of the Earth, debris is likely to splash somewhere in the waters of the Pacific, he said.
McDowell has also adjusted the time period debris is expected to arrive between May 8 and May 10.
The rocket, the main module of China’s new next-generation space station, on April 28. The space base is expected to be completed in late 2022 to serve as a scientific research outpost for China for the next decade, and the only other operational space habitat outside of the International Space Station.
And what goes up must come down.
In 2018, similar events took place, when the uncontrollable Chinese space station Tiangong-1 returned to the atmosphere over the ocean near Tahiti. No one was injured and the debris burned down or found a new home on the South Pacific floor.