US military has “no plan” to stop falling Chinese rocket debris – National – fr

US military has “no plan” to stop falling Chinese rocket debris – National – fr

The US military – including its all-new Space Force – has no plans to shoot down the core of the out-of-control Chinese rocket that is expected to crash somewhere on Earth this weekend, according to the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Austin said on Thursday that the United States would not step in to stop the 21-ton, 30-meter-long space junk, despite the long-term risk of crashing into an inhabited area somewhere on the planet. The exact crash point will only be known a few hours before it hits.

“We have the capacity to do a lot of things, but we don’t have a plan to bring it down as we speak,” Austin told reporters. “We hope he lands in a place where he doesn’t harm anyone – hopefully in the ocean or somewhere like that.”

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Huge Chinese rocket core falling ‘out of control’ to Earth

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The rocket core is the largest residue from China’s Long March 5B rocket, which carried part of a space station into orbit on April 29.

Rocket cores are typically designed to fall back to Earth and the ocean shortly after delivering their payloads. However, the exhausted Long March 5B rocket’s core accidentally entered a temporary orbit, where it has searched around the planet while stumbling on a chaotic path ever since.

Observers say the core could fall almost anywhere on Earth and could leave a strip of destruction similar to a small plane crash if it hits Earth. However, it is much more likely to fall into water which covers about 71% of the Earth’s surface.

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Tracking data from the object, dubbed CZ-5B, shows it circled the globe at 27,900 km / h Friday morning, at an altitude of about 230 km.

The rocket core has dropped 10 to 15 km per day, and rough projections suggest it will fall late on Saturday or Sunday.

The non-profit Aerospace Corp. predicted Thursday that the core would fall in northeast Africa on Sunday, although it is “still too early to determine a significant debris footprint.” That prediction had changed since Wednesday, when the core was expected to fall near the west coast of Australia.

Nevertheless, Aerospace Corp. says the rocket could descend as far north as the Great Lakes in North America, and as far south as Australia’s southernmost tip.

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US Space Command and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, say they follow the nucleus as it falls. Russia does not expect the rocket core to affect its territory.

Chinese officials said on Friday that the core would mostly burn in re-entry and pose little threat to people and buildings on the ground.

This is the second time that China has used its Long March 5B rocket and the second time that the main core of the rocket has entered orbit before performing an uncontrolled reentry.

The first rocket core crashed into Earth last May and ended up sinking into an inhabited area in Côte d’Ivoire, where villagers found an intact 12-meter metal pipe after the crash. No injuries were reported at the time.

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It is extremely rare for anything over 10 tonnes to make an uncontrolled re-entry to Earth, according to Harvard University astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell. He points out that most large rocket cores are designed to do a desorbital burn that will knock them out of the sky, but that hasn’t been the case with China’s “reckless” Long March 5B rockets.

“I think it’s remiss of them,” McDowell told The New York Times. “I think it’s irresponsible.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday that the United States was determined to work with the international community to promote “responsible space leadership and behavior.”

Defense Secretary Austin also stressed the importance of taking a “safe and thoughtful” approach to space.

According to Ted Muelhaupt, head of the Aerospace Center for Orbital and Reentry Studies, most space nations have successfully designed their equipment to fall out of orbit.

“It’s something the whole world has moved towards because we need it,” he told The Times.

He added that the fall of the Chinese rocket core could scatter around 10 tons of debris for hundreds of kilometers.

“Think about the wreckage value of three pickup trucks,” he said.

China also allowed its first space station, the Tiangong-1, to fall back to Earth during an uncontrolled reentry in 2018. The space station eventually crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

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Floating debris and satellites have become a growing problem for human operations in orbit, and some countries have already started to prepare for conflicts in this area. Former US President Donald Trump has founded a fifth branch of the US military, the Space Force, to deal with these threats, while China has tested ways to bring down satellites or effectively bring them out of orbit. with its own machine.

The Chinese state-run Global Times dismissed the rocket dropping threat earlier this week, calling it “Western hype” about the “Chinese threat.”

China plans to launch 11 more rocket missions by the end of next year to build its Tianhe (Heavenly Harmony) space station. It is not known whether they will change the design of the Long March 5B rocket to avoid further accidental orbits in the future.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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