China rocket hurtling to earth ‘real problem’ as large parts ‘can survive re-entry’

China rocket: Expert discusses rocket booster 'heading for Earth'

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The large piece of space debris is set for re-entry by early Sunday US eastern time. Harvard-based astronomer Jonathan McDowell warned there is a chance that pieces of the rocket could come down over land in a populated area. He describes this happening in with a May 2020 Long March rocket launch were the re-entry debris fell on the Ivory Coast.

Mr McDowell said: “The long pipes that bring fuel from one part of the rocket to another survive re-entry quite well with one large piece of pipe falling through the roof of someone’s house in the Ivory Coast”.

He also told the Independent: “We cannot predict the exact moment when it is going to break-up.

“There is a real problem as it is really hard to exactly predict when and where it is going to come down.”

However, the astronomer said the chances of the Chinese rocket hitting a populated area are small, but not zero.

Beijing used the rocket to place the Tianhe module of the future Chinese Space Station (CSS) into orbit last week.

However, now the 30-metre long rocket is making an uncontrolled re-entry back to earth.

The rocket is currently travelling around the world at a tremendous speed.

It is making a full orbit of the world once every 90 minutes, or seven kilometres every second.

The rockets staggering velocity means scientists are unable to discover the exact location and time when it will eventually crash land back on earth.

Mr McDowell said: “This rocket is used to launching very large payloads.

“The core stage of the rocket ends up in orbit along with the payload, which is unusual.

“Most space agencies design their rockets so that the large core disposes of itself as the payload reaches orbit, so that it does not become space junk.

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“The rocket weighs 21 tones, it is a very very large object.

“Eventually it will get low enough and the rocket will break up into pieces and crash down into the earth.

“Last time large pieces of metal fell down on the Ivory coast.

“We should be concerned that this is a reckless use of space.

“We have not allowed incontrollable re-entry since 1979 when the US Skylab space station crashed into the Australian outback.”

It is the norm to have controlled re-entry for all rocket launches.

However, China has ignored placing these controlled re-entry mechanisms into their missions.

This latest uncontrolled re-entry has raised questions about how the country’s space program designs its missions.

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