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A Chinese out-of-control rocket is hurtling to Earth; Nobody knows exactly when or where it’ll crash

Despite the fact that a Chinese spacecraft that was maintaining the country’s continuous orbiting space station partly burned up on re-entering the atmosphere, there are legitimate concerns about China’s decision to let a massive launch vehicle fall to Earth uncontrolled. The Tianzhou-3 cargo ship’s minor bits only managed to fall safely into a specified area of the South Pacific on Wednesday, according to the China Space Flight Agency.

In order to install a laboratory module on Monday, the Tianhe core module was docked on Sunday. An important part of the Long March 5B-Y3 Chinese rocket was the booster that has drawn the attention of the space community since it carried the laboratory module to and from the space station, which is presently staffed by three astronauts.

Since China decided without directing the rocket back through the atmosphere, it is uncertain exactly when or where it will land on Earth. According to scientists, there is very little chance that such debris will hit a populated area since it will mostly burn up upon return.

However, a number of buildings were damaged by the first Long March 5B’s pieces that fell over the Ivory Coast in 2020. Long March rocket stage, despite China’s not being the only nation that allows free re-entry, has drawn particular notice.

These concerns were allayed by Zhao Lijian, the foreign ministry’s spokesperson. Chinese space engineers have studied reducing space trash and returning satellites to Earth’s atmosphere throughout the design phase of their space engineering program.” Mr. Zhao said on Wednesday at a regular briefing.

“It is common knowledge that the vast majority of this kind of rocket’s parts will be destroyed and burned up upon re-entry due to the one-of-a-kind technical design employed in the construction of this type of rocket.

The likelihood of harming aircraft operations or the environment is quite low. Space station operations in China have been mostly carried out by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the military wing of China’s ruling Communist Party. China was denied access to the ISS by the US due to its military ties to its space program.

Source: AP/Reuters

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Written by Alex Bruno

Freelance space writer Alex Bruno specializes in covering China's quickly expanding space industry. In 2021, he started writing for SpaceXMania. He also contributes to publications including SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. When Alex was a small child, he first experienced the space bug after seeing Voyager photographs of alien planets in our solar system. When not in space, Alex likes to go trail jogging in the Finnish countryside.

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