With the craziness of the virus last year, some of you may have missed the story of how falling space junk from a Chinese rocket apparently narrowly missed a school as it fell back to earth in September of last year.
The story was carried in detail on Space.com:
A Chinese Long March 4B rocket successfully launched a new Earth-watching satellite Monday (Sep. 7) but the booster’s spent first stage narrowly missed a school when it fell back to Earth, witness videos show.
The Long March 4B rocket lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China, at 1:57 p.m. local time (1:57 a.m. EDT, 0557 GMT). It carried the powerful Gaofen 11 (02) Earth observation satellite, an optical observation satellite capable of returning high resolution images, showing features as smaller than 3 feet (1 meter) across.
This was the Twitter post from All about Space back in September:
— All About Space (@spaceanswers) September 8, 2020
Well, apparently it’s happening again. And this time, scientists reportedly have no clue where the debris will fall.
According to CBS News:
A huge piece of space junk is about to make an uncontrolled re-entry back into Earth’s atmosphere, threatening to drop debris on a number of cities around the world in the coming days. It’s leftover from China’s first module for its— and no one knows where it will land.
The 46,000-pound Chinese rocket Long March-5B recently launched the first module for the country’s new space station into orbit. After the core separated from the rest of the rocket, it should have followed a predetermined flight path into the ocean.
But now, scientists have little idea where it will land as it orbits the planet unpredictably every 90 minutes, at about 17,324 miles per hour. As it soars through the atmosphere, appearing to tumble, it is slowly losing altitude.
Despite much speculation, no one knows where the debris will fall. It has the potential to land in the U.S., Mexico, Central America, South America, Africa, India, China or Australia.
Most likely, it will land in the ocean, which makes up over 70% of the planet, or in an uninhabited region. However, as one of the largest spacecraft to ever re-enter uncontrollably, there is still a risk that debris will land in a metropolitan area.
Space.com had more worrying details:
Plotting the trajectory of this falling rocket stage is difficult, if not impossible because there are too many uncertainties involved in calculating the effect of the atmospheric drag on the core module. Earth’s atmosphere can expand or contract with solar activity, making it hard to estimate exactly when and where the rocket will come down.
“The high speed of the rocket body means it orbits the Earth roughly every 90 minutes and so a change of just a few minutes in reentry time results in reentry point thousands of kilometers away,” SpaceNews said, adding that the object’s orbital inclination of 41.5 degrees means it “passes a little farther north than New York, Madrid and Beijing and as far south as southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand, and could make its reentry at any point within this area.”
Its fast speed makes its landing place nearly impossible to predict, but it is expected to make landfall in the coming days.
Here’s some of the conversation taking place all over the world about this from Twitter:
So China launched something, its stuck in orbit but decaying, orbiting the earth every 90 minutes, and will descend at [we have no idea] and hit [something between New York and New Zealand].https://t.co/ET4Q5TtZ5m
— Simon Sarris (@simonsarris) April 30, 2021
‘Out-of-control’ #Chinese rocket falling to Earth could partially survive re-entry
Long March 5B is doing 27,600km/h in failing orbit, after launching space station hub, and could make an uncontrolled re-entry with eventual crash site unknown.https://t.co/LxQ4gMAR1I
— Indo-Pacific News – Watching the CCP-China Threat (@IndoPac_Info) May 4, 2021
100-foot-tall, 21-ton Chinese rocket booster is going to fall from space and hit earth in a random location sometime in the next week or so, would suggest looking up and dodging if you see gigantic structure falling on or near vicinity of your headhttps://t.co/coh2PGlUaw
— Jason Koebler (@jason_koebler) May 3, 2021
I reeeeeeally don't want to die by space trash falling to earth https://t.co/jw4CvlIQk0
— Angel George (@georgee5) May 1, 2021
Even if this falling debris misses us, it’s not over.
Apparently, China has a whole line of space rocket launches this year in preparation for its new space station.
Again, space.com had all the details:
So, not only is China beating us in the Space race but apparently now, we have to be worried about their space junk falling on our heads.
But no worries, now that Kamala is head of the Space Council, I’m sure she’ll do what it takes to keep us safe.
This makes sense when you consider how much space she’s kept from the border.
Vice President Kamala Harris to chair National Space Council – ABC News https://t.co/tZcMj7z0PQ
— Jimmy Failla (@jimmyfailla) May 3, 2021