The Long March 5B rocket, which carried a Chinese space station module, fell into low Earth orbit and now risks collapsing again.
The rocket successfully launched the Tianhe module last week, which will become the living quarters of the future Chinese space station (CSS). Unfortunately, the 30-meter rocket also reached orbit and is now one of the largest launches so far for uncontrolled re-entry.
It is unusual for rockets to reach the speed needed to reach orbit, but they currently orbit the world once every 90 minutes or seven kilometers every second. It runs north of New York, Madrid and Beijing and all the way south to Chile and New Zealand.
There are fears that the missile could land on an inhabited area; the last launch of the Long March rocket in May 2020 reported debris falling on villages in Côte d̵
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Should we be afraid of falling debris?
Because space agencies cannot predict where the rocket will fall, there is no detailed risk assessment for those worried about falling debris.
However, the ESA says people should not worry about being hit by falling debris.
“In general, most sites burn completely in the atmosphere during re-entry. Parts of larger objects or components made of high-melting material can survive to reach the earth or the ocean surface, ”he says.
“Because these are rare events and because about 75% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, while large parts of the land are not inhibited, the risk for each individual is several orders of magnitude lower than the generally accepted risks, such as those encountered. when driving a car taken in daily life. “
Adam SmithMay 4, 2021 15:26
Where will he avoid?
Although we may not know where it will land, but scientists know where it will escape Long March 5B.
Since the orbit of CZ-5B (classification of debris) is inclined at 41 degrees to the Earth’s axis, all debris will not fall farther than north or south of latitude.
“Therefore, the risk zone includes any part of the earth’s surface between latitude 41N and 41S. In short, as far as ESA member states are concerned, it includes parts of Spain, Italy and Greece, ”says ESA.
Adam SmithMay 4, 2021 14:02
What will happen when the rocket re-enters Earth
Although the rocket is likely to fall into the ocean – simply because of the large percentage of the Earth covered with water – astronomers believe that some pieces of the rocket will survive re-entry.
That would be “the equivalent of a small plane crash spread over 100 miles,” according to Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard University’s Astrophysics Center.
At the moment, predicting the fall of the rocket is very difficult, but it is expected to return to Earth on May 10. Once the specific day is confirmed, experts can obviously limit the landing time to a six-hour window.
“The main stage of Long March 5B is seven times more massive than the second stage of Falcon 9, which attracted a lot of press attention a few weeks ago when it re-entered Seattle and dumped several pressure tanks in Washington state,” McDowell also said. “I think by current standards it is unacceptable to allow him to re-enter uncontrolled. Since 1990, nothing over 10 tons has been intentionally left in orbit to re-enter uncontrolled. “
Adam SmithMay 4, 2021 12:22 p.m.
March 5: Missile tracking
Currently, the missile meets these parameters, but today it has dropped even more. At 10:00 Greenwich Mean Time, when the rocket was over Africa, it fell to nearly 160 kilometers.
Amateur observations from the ground show regular lightning from the rocket in the night sky, suggesting that it is out of control.
Most of the rocket will probably disintegrate until it crashes, but some debris will remain.
“It is always difficult to estimate the amount of surviving mass and the number of fragments without knowing the design of the site, but the reasonable ‘rule’ is about 20-40 percent of the initial dry mass,” said Holger Kragg, head of the Space Program Office. safety to the European Space Agency.
Adam SmithMay 4, 2021 12:10