The Long March 5B rocket, which carried a Chinese space station module, has fallen into low earth orbit and is now at risk of crashing.
The rocket successfully launched the Tianhe module last week, which will become the living quarters of the future Chinese Space Station (CSS). Sadly, the 30-meter-long rocket has also reached orbit and is now one of the biggest launches ever to perform an uncontrolled reentry.
Rockets rarely reach the speed necessary to reach orbit, but they currently circle the world once every 90 minutes, or seven kilometers every second. It passes just north of New York, Madrid and Beijing, and as far south as Chile and New Zealand.
It is feared that the rocket will land on an inhabited area; The last time a Long March rocket was launched in May 2020, debris was reported falling on villages in Ivory Coast. The speed of the rocket means scientists still don’t know when it will fall, but it will likely do so before May 10, 2021.
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Russia says it’s monitoring rocket – but don’t worry
Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, says it is following the rocket. But that shouldn’t cause any damage – at least to Russia itself …
“Some of the rocket stage structures will cease to exist in the dense layers of the atmosphere, but some non-combustible structural elements can reach the surface of the earth,” an update said on its site. “On May 7 and 8, there will be a real probability of the point of impact. This situation will not harm the territory of the Russian Federation. “
Andrew GriffinMay 7, 2021 7:20 p.m.
The map shows the possible re-entry path
The latest forecast from The Aerospace Corporation is largely similar to what we expected: early Sunday morning UK time, but with a window of around 11 a.m. on either side.
The re-entry is even more difficult to predict, as the spacecraft orbits so quickly in orbit that a difference of a few minutes could result in a drastic change of location – not to mention what equates to almost a full day of possible weather.
But back to school should be somewhere on this useful card.
Andrew GriffinMay 7, 2021 3:03 PM
Ask a rocket expert anything
Andrew GriffinMay 7, 2021 2:34 p.m.
European Space Agency gives final forecast for rocket re-entry
The latest – and last – prediction from the European Space Agency has arrived.
He shows that he expects re-entry to occur at 3:15 am UTC. But there is a 9 hour and 25 minute window – which means it can happen anytime between Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.
Due to this large window and the high speed of the spacecraft, it is impossible to say where this reentry will take place or where parts of the object might fall. Even eight hours before the start of the school year, any location prediction can go up to “two terrestrial resolutions”, notes the space agency.
Andrew GriffinMay 7, 2021 1:15 p.m.
China launches another rocket
Last night UK time, China launched an older rocket into space to put some satellites into orbit.
Fortunately, the Chang Zheng 2C won’t come back down for another two decades, and the rocket is much smaller, so it should be safer when it does.
Andrew GriffinMay 7, 2021 11:16 AM
The arrival could coincide with Elon Musk’s Saturday Night Live appearance – both in location and time
As it will run until the wee hours of Sunday morning, the Saturday Night Live show with Elon Musk will take place during this window. And SNL’s New York studios are in the range, as expert Jonathan McDowell noted.
But he notes that the rocket is unlikely to fall on the set: the rocket appears to be over the South Pacific during the monologue, he notes.
Andrew GriffinMay 7, 2021 9:53 AM
Forecasts show the rocket will return from Saturday night
The planned re-entry from the United States shows that the rocket descends between 2 p.m. Saturday afterwards and 8 a.m. Sunday morning. (This is UTC, so the same as GMT; you can add one hour to get the UK time, or subtract four to get the US West Coast time.)
Andrew GriffinMay 7, 2021 9:51 AM
Are wooden satellites the answer?
In addition to the aforementioned giant claw, Japan is testing wooden satellites to clean up space wrecks.
Sumitomo Forestry, a wood processing company based in Japan, said they have started researching an ideal wood material for the space.
Satellites could burn when they return to Earth without releasing harmful substances into the atmosphere and could be ready as early as 2023.
Adam SmithMay 7, 2021 3:30 p.m.
A long March 5B might be harmless; what if something is not?
Scientists have attempted to map what would happen if an asteroid or other type of object crashed into Earth. It does not end well.
There is currently no technology on Earth that could prevent a massive asteroid from wiping out Europe.
Simulations carried out by space agencies concluded that such a disaster would be inevitable, even with six months to prepare.
“If we were faced with the real-life scenario, we wouldn’t be able to launch a spacecraft in such a short time with current capabilities,” the agencies said.
Adam SmithMay 7, 2021 2:30 p.m.
And the giant claw?
The European Space Agency will send a huge claw into space in order to clear the build-up of space debris that has accumulated around the planet.
The ClearSpace-1 mission will target the Vespa (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter), which was left in orbit after Vega’s second flight in 201.
The agency calls on a Swiss start-up, called ClearSpace SA, to carry out this task. It should launch its mission in 2025.