China rocket: Expert discusses rocket booster 'heading for Earth'
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China has found itself in international hot water after one of its rockets, which was used to launch a satellite on April 28, is now spiralling around the Earth. The rocket, known as Long March 5B, is 30 metres long and will be the largest to ever have an “uncontrolled re-entry” into Earth. Experts are currently unsure where the rocket will land due to the speed in which it is moving around Earth.
When will Long March 5B come back down to Earth?
Exactly when the rocket will land is a bit of a conundrum for experts due to the sheer velocity of it.
Long March 5B is completing an orbit of our planet roughly every 90 minutes.
This means it is travelling at a staggering seven kilometres per second, making its final destination extremely hard to predict.
However, experts who have been monitoring the rocket intently have some predictions.
According to the European Space Agency (ESA), the rocket will likely re-enter the atmosphere on May 9 at precisely 08:31:19:47 BST.
However, the caveat from the ESA is that there is a 17 hour and 56 minute window either side in which it could re-enter.
Estimates from the US Space Force differ massively, however.
It believes the rocket will likely enter “decay epoch” on May 8 at 23:11 BST.
Due to the sheer size of the rocket and the speed in which it is travelling, most of it will burn up in the atmosphere when it re-enters.
However, there is a risk some of the debris could make landfall, although where is currently anyone’s guess.
Mike Howard, a spokesman for the US Defense Department, said: “US Space Command is aware of and tracking the location of the Chinese Long March 5B in space, but its exact entry point into the Earth’s atmosphere cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its re-entry, which is expected around May 8.”
While some are worried that the rocket could make landfall, this scenario is made more unlikely by the vast covering of water on our planet.
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Earth’s surface is covered by 71 percent ocean, so theoretically there is a seven in 10 chance that whatever pieces of debris do make it through the atmosphere, then they will land in an area where humans will not be in danger.
However, as it stands it is unclear where the rocket will land.
Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell said the rocket was an accident waiting to happen, due to poor design on China’s part.
He said on Twitter: “This was not an accident, it was poor design of the rocket.
“The fact that the massive core stage stays in orbit is how this rocket is designed, and that’s the easy (but negligent) way to do it.”
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