China’s ‘out-of-control’ rocket Long March 5B could hit Earth this weekend; US tracking it
In an alarming situation, part of a huge rocket that launched China’s first module for its Tianhe space station could make an uncontrolled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. Its landing point is unknown.
Carrying the Tianhe module, the 30-metre high core of the Long March-5B rocket had blasted off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the coast of the southern island province of Hainan on April 29.
After launching the “Heavenly Harmony” unmanned core module into low Earth orbit, the Long March 5B then itself entered into a temporary orbit.
The US Department of Defence has said that it is tracking the Chinese rocket that is out of control and set to re-enter Earth's atmosphere around May 8.
As per CNN, US Space Command is tracking the trajectory of the rocket amid concerns regarding where its debris may make an impact.
"The 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," said Pentagon's US Space Command in a statement.
"Until then, the 18th Space Control Squadron will be offering daily updates to the rocket body's location on Space-track.org beginning May 4. USSPACECOM will provide additional information as it becomes available," it added.
Meanwhile, Fox News cited a space monitoring website as saying that the around 100-foot object is orbiting Earth every 90 minutes and zips past north of New York, Beijing and as far south as New Zealand.
The report added that it will most probably splash in one of the world's oceans or in an isolated area.
The Guardian, meanwhile, quoted Jonathan McDowell, the astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University, as saying: “It’s potentially not good.”
“Last time they launched a Long March 5B rocket they ended up with big long rods of metal flying through the sky and damaging several buildings in the Ivory Coast,” he said, adding: “Most of it burned up, but there were these enormous pieces of metal that hit the ground. We are very lucky no one was hurt.”