Main Stage of Chinese Rocket Likely to Plunge to Earth This Weekend

Grant Boone
May 8, 2021

THE US MILITARY has said it is monitoring the re-entry of an out-of-control Chinese rocket.

Mr McDowell did add that there was a chance that pieces could fall over land, like in May 2020, when pieces from another Chinese rocket came down over the Ivory Coast, damaging several buildings but leaving no one injured.

Basic details about the rocket stage and its trajectory are unknown because the Chinese government has yet to comment publicly on the reentry. The ministry reiterated that China is resolute in keeping the outer space safe and pledged that it will continue to work with the global community to ensure peaceful use of space.

The U.S. Defence Department expects the rocket stage to fall to Earth on Saturday.

Where it will hit "cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its reentry", the Pentagon said in a statement Tuesday.

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday the US has no plans to shoot down a Chinese rocket hurling back toward earth this weekend, but he hopes it will land in the ocean.

U.S. Space Command on Thursday updated its estimated landing date to Saturday, May 8, but the time and general location are still impossible to predict.

The nonprofit Aerospace Corporation expects the debris to hit the Pacific near the equator after passing over eastern US cities.

Last week, the 100-foot Long March 5B rocket launched the first part of its space station into low-earth orbit. While some media reports claimed as the rocket re-enters the atmosphere, its debris would fall "out of control" and pose threats.

Zhang Xiaotian, an expert who specializes in spacecraft debris with the School of Astronautics from Beihang University told CGTN that the falling of the rocket and the debris back to Earth is a fully controlled process which requires less accuracy compared to entering into an orbit. It lifted off last month carrying the core module of the station. The space laboratory Tiangong-1 disintegrated upon re-entry into the atmosphere in 2018, two years after it had stopped working, though Chinese authorities denied they had lost control of the ship.

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