The Pentagon has its eye on the out-of-control Chinese rocket that is expected to crash into Earth — but it’s not anything to lose sleep over

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The Pentagon has its eye on the out-of-control Chinese rocket that is expected to crash into Earth — but it’s not anything to lose sleep over
The Long March 5B rocketChina Manned Space
  • The headquarters of the US Department of Defence is keeping its eye on the Chinese Long March 5B rocket, likely to fall towards Earth from outer space anytime after May 8.
  • According to the DoD spokesperson, the rocket’s exact point of re-entry won’t come to light until a couple of hours before it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard University’s Astrophysics Centre, believes that the rocket is most likely going to fall somewhere over the Pacific Ocean — not over a human population.
The US Space Command is tracking China’s Long March 5B rocket from the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Department of Defence (DoD). The Asian giant launched the rocket with the first set of components needed to build their own space station in outer space — and now it’s circling the planet because it doesn’t have a pre-designated spot to crash down.

According to the US Department of Defense spokesperson, Mike Howard, the rocket is expected to fall back to Earth on May 8. The rocket’s exact point of re-entry won’t be known until a couple of hours before re-entry.

Before that happens, people can check for daily updates on the location of the out-of-control rocket on the Space Track website.

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The chances that the Long March 5B rocket will hit you is minimal


Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard University’s Astrophysics Centre, told CNN that the risk of the rocket actually hitting a human being is minimal. “I would not lose one second of sleep over this,” he said.

According to him, the Pacific Ocean covers most of the Earth’s surface. Therefore, it’s likely that the Chinese rocket will splash down somewhere over the Pacific waters rather than actually hit lad.

What happened with the Long March 5B rocket?


The Long March 5B rocket weighs approximately 21 tonnes. Instead of falling into a pre-designation spot in the ocean, which is the common practice for rockets that are going to fall back to Earth, the Long March 5B’s core stage is circling the planet instead.
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When the rocket falls out of orbit, it could simply just burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. However, there is also a risk that large chunks of debris could survive the re-entry and fall onto the Earth’s surface instead.

The bigger issue is that this is not the first time such an incident is occurring with a Chinese rocket.

In May last year, China had initiated a different launch of the Long March 5B rocket — a prototype test before using it to launch components for the space station. Even that rocket’s core stage fell back to Earth uncontrolled.
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Six days after the launch, it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator at the time, called the incident “really dangerous.” The rocket stage had flown over Los Angeles and New York City before it crashed.

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