Part of a Chinese rocket, which launched a module of its future space station, should fall back to earth on May 10, within two days… without anyone knowing precisely where. Some experts, interviewed by the British newspaper
, fear that it will crash into an inhabited area. “This is potentially not good,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard University's Center for Astrophysics. “The last time they launched a Longue Marche 5B rocket, large, long metal rods were flying in the sky and damaged several buildings in Côte d'Ivoire,” he added.
Dubbed Longue-Marche 5B, the launcher was sent into space on April 29 from the city of Wenchang, in the Chinese province of Hainan.
The rocket launch was part of 11 missions planned as part of the construction of the Chinese space station, dubbed Tiangong (Heavenly Palace), which is due to be completed by the end of 2022. After the Tianhe module detached, Longue-Marche 5B went into orbit on itself, uncontrollably.
It is now impossible to predict where it will land when it is attracted to the Earth's atmosphere.
"Negligence on the part of China"
For Jonathan McDowell, there's a good chance it will fall back into the sea, with the ocean covering 71% of the planet.
But, he continues, other pieces of the rocket will follow.
They will cause “the equivalent of a small plane crash scattered over 100 miles”.
He deplores a "negligence on the part of China": "We do not deliberately drop from the sky objects over 10 tons in an uncontrolled manner.
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