Another Chinese rocket will fall uncontrollably to Earth and no one knows yet where or when it will

You may remember the Chinese rocket Long March 5B that fell uncontrollably to Earth. A news that made the headlines all over Spain, because even if it did not cause damage, it was an event that alerted the entire space community because of the likely fatal consequences it could have had. Well, everything indicates that a new rocket, of the same model, I would suffer the same fate.

[La nave gigante china que explorará el universo: un tamaño kilométrico que irá creciendo por módulos]

The rocket in question is another Long March 5B. as collected, it is already on the launch pad to take off on July 24. The idea is simple: take the Wentian module from the Tiangong space station into space, to join the existing module in low Earth orbit Tianhe.

The Wentian module is expected to join the Tianhe core module in orbit a few hours later. The problem is that this rocket, 54 meters high and weighing 848,220 kilos, could suffer the same fate as the other previous 5Bs that fell on Earth.

the same could happen

First, a bit of history. In May 2020, a first Long March 5B rocket spins out of control on the west coast of Mauritania, in northwest Africa. As confirmed by United States Air Force Space Control, the parts of the 30-meter core stage that did not disintegrate upon re-entry into the atmosphere fell on inhabited land.

Although fortunately there were no injuries, some structures were affected. On the other hand, in May 2021, a year later, the remains of a second Long March 5B fall back to Earth. Fortunately, the debris that did not disintegrate in the atmosphere fell in the Indian Ocean without causing damage.

The Long March-5B Y2 rocket sits on the launch pad at Wenchang Space Launch Center

The Long March-5B Y2 rocket sits on the launch pad at Wenchang Space Launch Center


Thomson Reuters

Tiangong space station is the Chinese alternative to the ISS, the International Space Station. The first module, the Tianhe, was launched in April last year and is considered a vital module for the station. It will be responsible for being the coupling center for the rest of the modules that the country will launch in the future and it will be the control center for the rest of Tiangong.

The gate Gizmodo consulted expert Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, on the possibility that this new Long March 5B also suffers the same fate as its predecessors. It is something that the expert take it for granted in case China has not made changes to the rocket design. In this case, explain that the same situation could occur.

With Tianhe already established and Wentian about to join it, there is the releases of future Mengtian and Xuntian modules, expected late 2022 and early 2023. Unfortunately, there is no estimate about when the rocket will land if so, or in what area.

In the event that the case of the Long March 5B crash happens again with the Wentian, we could be in imminent danger if China uses the same rocket and the same strategy for these next two launches.

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