Chinese rocket expected to crash into Earth this weekend

Chinese rocket expected to crash into Earth this weekend
The Tianhe module was launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: A large Chinese rocket that has gone out of control is set to reenter Earth’s atmosphere in this weekend, bringing a final wave of concern before the flying object’s debris makes impact somewhere on Earth.

The Long March 5B rocket, which weighs 22 tons and is around 100 feet tall, is expected to enter Earth’s atmosphere “around May 8,” US Defense Department spokesperson Mike Howard said, adding that the US Space Command is tracking the rocket’s trajectory.

Howard said that the rocket’s “exact entry point into the Earth’s atmosphere” can not be pinpointed until within hours of reentry, but the 18th Space Control Squadron is providing daily updates on the rocket’s location via the Space Track website.

The good news is that debris of the Chinese rocket plunging toward Earth — while unnerving — generally poses very little threat to personal safety.

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard University’s Astrophysics Center, said: “The risk that there will be some damage or that it would hit someone is pretty small — not negligible, it could happen — but the risk that it will hit you is incredibly tiny. And so I would not lose one second of sleep over this on a personal threat basis.”

The European Space Agency has predicted a “risk zone” that covers “any portion of Earth’s surface between about 41.5N and 41.5S latitude” — which includes virtually all of Africa and Australia, all of the Americas south of New York, parts of Asia south of Japan and Europe’s Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece.

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