Chinese rocket’s ‘massive’ splashdown in the Atlantic is biggest since 1991, says Harvard astrophysicist
- A leftover piece of the Chinese
Long March 5Brocket entered Earth’s atmosphere on May 11, splashing down over the Atlantic Ocean.
- According to Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan Mc Dowell, it’s the largest piece of debris to make an uncontrolled return to Earth.
- The Long March 5B is China’s new rocket that it used to lest its prototype crew capsule for human spaceflight sometime scheduled for 2022.
It’s the biggest piece of
The CZ-5B-Y1 core stage is in a 155 x 366 km orbit, and is expected to reenter around May 11. At 17.8 tonnes, it is… https://t.co/d7AbLJnuBU— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) 1588874985000
The Long March 5B rocket is a brand-new rocket that China launched on May 5 to test the durability of its prototype crew capsule. It was a milestone in its goal towards eventually launching astronauts into space in 2022.
The core stage of the rocket made its way back to Earth after orbiting the planet for 68-hours on May 8. Whatever didn’t burn up in the atmosphere, splashed into the Atlantic late last night.
#18SPCS has confirmed the reentry of the CZ-5B R/B (#45601, 2020-027C) at 08:33 PDT on 11 May, over the Atlantic Oc… https://t.co/teHLlKXu1k— 18 SPCS (@18SPCS) 1589216548000
Even though the space debris was massive, there haven’t been eye witness reports of the rocket streaking through the sky or debris being found on land.
Rocket debris is complicated
Just yesterday, the upper stage of a Russian rocket disintegrated in space leaving at least 65 pieces of debris in Earth’s orbit. The Russian space agency, ROSCOSMOS, is still working out where the debris is headed or if its endangered any active satellites.
Larger rockets, like the Long March 5B, are normally equipped with means to steer the spacecraft as it makes its way back to the planet. However, that doesn’t seem to have been the case this time.
Uncontrolled rocket re-entries, on the other hand, are as easy to predict. The pieces are flying down at thousands of miles per hour and the rocket breaks up in the atmosphere, the resulting debris could spread for thousands of kilometres.
Even though the leftover pieces of Long March 5B were mostly over the Atlantic, there was a possibility that the debris could have hit Australian, US or even African landmasses.
Updated SpaceTrack reentry prediction for CZ-5B core stage: between 1330 UTC and 1730 UTC May 11. Orbit is 139 x 1… https://t.co/MlYGU03AXO— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) 1589204199000
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