Beijing: The detritus of China’s Long March 5B rocket, which had successfully launched the core module of the country’s space station last week, is set for a re-enter into earth’s atmosphere this weekend and is raising concerns where it could fall and the possible damage it could cause.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that it was keeping track of a large Chinese rocket that is out of control and set for a re-enter into earth’s atmosphere this weekend, CNN reported.
The Chinese Long March 5B rocket is estimated to enter earth’s atmosphere “around May 8,” the report had quoted a statement from Defence Department spokesperson Mike Howard, who had also added that the US Space Command is tracking the rocket’s trajectory.
ALSO READ: Mali woman gives birth to nine babies
The rocket’s “exact entry point into the earth’s atmosphere” can not be pinpointed until within hours of re-entry, Howard said. However, the 18th Space Control Squadron will be providing daily updates on the rocket’s trajectory on the Space Track website.
The above-mentioned rocket was used by the Chinese authority to launch part of its space station on last Thursday. While space debris objects mostly gets burned up in the atmosphere, the size of this rocket — 22 tonnes — has raised some concern after large parts of it could re-enter and cause severe damage if they hit inhabited areas.
“I don’t think people should take precautions. 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,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Centre at Harvard University told CNN.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted him as saying that “we don’t know where the re-entry would take place. (It would be) at worst like a small plane crash but stretched out in a line over hundreds of kilometres.”
The Post also quoted a source with knowledge of China’s space programme who said that the debris is “under close watch” and is “likely to fall back to earth in international waters”.
The sources further added that it was still uncertain how many fragments would remain after the re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, but it could be enough to cause damage.