A giant 21-ton chunk of a Chinese rocket could land ANYWHERE if it hits Earth

A HUGE piece of Chinese rocket falls uncontrollably back to Earth this weekend – and scientists have warned it could end up anywhere.

Debris from the 21-ton piece – which is the size of a 10-story building – is expected to rupture the atmosphere on Saturday, according to aerospace experts scrambling to pinpoint its route home.

Long March-5B Y4 rocket carrying China's Mengtian laboratory module as it was launched on Monday

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Long March-5B Y4 rocket carrying China’s Mengtian laboratory module as it was launched on MondayPhoto credit: Getty

After the rocket was launched from the Tiangong space station on Monday, Chinese authorities were asked for more information.

Gregory Henning, project leader at Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Orbital Debris and Reentry Studies (CORDS), suggested that the data and models still have too many uncertainties to make a prediction.

“As the missile body’s altitude decreases and re-entry approaches, the window gets smaller and begins to reveal locations that aren’t going to be the landing pad,” Henning said Daily Mail.

“But the exact location will not be known until it actually occurs.”

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The latest rocket malfunction mirrors a crash in July after space debris from a previous Chinese launch plunged into the Indian Ocean near Malaysia.

At the time, experts didn’t reveal the exact location, fearing it might have hit a populated town or village.

But while major cities once again appear safe from the falling debris on this occasion, Henning suggested that “88 percent of the world’s population lives within those vulnerable latitude limits” of the launch vehicle’s expected landing area.

However, the probability that a person will be affected is said to be around six in 10 trillion.

The 20-ton core stage was jettisoned during a mission to deliver a new module to China’s space station.

It’s the fourth time in as many years that the country’s space agency has allowed a potentially fatal uncontrolled descent.

The 23-ton Long March 5B rocket carrying the Wentian laboratory module was launched from Hainan Island.

But like its predecessors, the rocket began to orbit the Earth on an erratic trajectory after separating from the station, while slowly losing altitude.

Experts have since been unable to predict where it will re-enter the atmosphere or fall back to the ground, which is near impossible.

It could break apart on entry, leaving only smaller pieces of debris to reach Earth.

However, China’s giant Long March 5B rocket is unable to make a controlled re-entry, experts say, because the process requires the booster to restart its engines after completing its main mission.

It is believed that later models being developed by China’s National Space Agency will allow controlled re-entry.

But until then, Beijing will continue to allow rocket parts the size of three fire engines stacked in a row to drift back to Earth.

OUT OF CONTROL

Before the July incident, a 21-ton piece of a Long March 5b crashed in the Indian Ocean.

At approximately 30 meters (100 feet) long, the booster stage was among the largest pieces of artificial debris to have fallen from space.

Scientists initially feared the garbage heap was destined for explosive re-entry via cities like New York and Madrid.

In September 2020, a Chinese rocket booster exploded after landing in a city in the country’s Shaanxi province.

And in May of this year, another Long March 5B rocket sped through the atmosphere, partially burning up on its descent.

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Fortunately, most of the debris from the disintegrating booster fell into the Atlantic – although some ended up in West Africa.

Pieces of metal rained down on populated villages in Ivory Coast, according to the South China Morning Post, although no injuries were reported.

Footage previously showed one of the runaway Chinese rockets breaking off over Malaysia after reentering the atmosphere in July

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Footage previously showed one of the runaway Chinese rockets breaking off over Malaysia after reentering the atmosphere in JulyPhoto credit: Twitter
At that time, experts had assured that the rocket would probably not cause any damage

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At that time, experts had assured that the rocket would probably not cause any damagePhoto credit: Twitter

https://www.thesun.ie/tech/9668930/huge-chinese-rocket-crash-land-anywhere-earth/ A giant 21-ton chunk of a Chinese rocket could land ANYWHERE if it hits Earth

Fry Electronics Team

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