The Chinese Rocket Has Crashed Back to Earth — But On Land? Or Water?

 

“It appears China won its gamble (debris on or near Maldives), but it was still reckless.”

— Jonathan McDowell, Ph.D., Astrophysicist, Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass.

China's Long March 5B rocket lifting off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on April 29, 2921. Image by Matjaz Tancic/EPA.
China’s Long March 5B rocket lifting off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on April 29, 2921. Space-Track Tweeted first that the rocket core “fell into the Indian Ocean north of the Maldives at Lat 22.2/ Long 50.0. Image by Matjaz Tancic/EPA.

 

May 9, 2021 Albuquerque, New Mexico – After ten days of making the
whole world nervous about where it might crash, China’s 23-ton “core stage of a Long March 5B booster”  re-entered Earth’s atmosphere at 10:15 PM Eastern Saturday night, May 8, 2021 (0215 GMT Sunday, May 9). U. S. Space Command officials reported,“It’s unknown if the debris impacted land or water.”

The heavy Chinese booster core was travelling near 4.8 miles per second, so, “This is difficult to predict and not an exact measurement,” Space-Track wrote in its Twitter feed. “A difference of just one minute in the time of reentry translates to hundreds of miles difference on the ground.”

About the ten days of the world not knowing where the 5B booster would come down, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson rebuked China for “failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris.”


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