Parts of a 22-ton Chinese rocket could survive reentry and crash into Earth next week

midian182

Posts: 6,794   +61
Staff member
WTF?! In what sounds like a potentially worrying scenario, a massive, "out-of-control" Chinese rocket that's falling to Earth could partially survive reentry and crash into the planet next week, but we don't know where it will land.

The Pentagon says it is tracking the trajectory of the Chinese Long March 5B rocket, which is expected to reenter the Earth's atmosphere on May 10. That's plus or minus two days so it could happen as early as May 8 or as late as May 12.

The Long March 5B's 30-metre (98.4-foot) high core launched the Tianhe or "Heavenly Harmony" unmanned module into low Earth orbit last week. It's the first module of China's space station that's expected to be fully operational by 2022.

The core stage is now also in orbit and heading for an uncontrolled reentry—you can watch its path here. While the atmosphere burns up most space junk, there are concerns that large parts of the 22-ton rocket could make it through and land on inhabited areas.

"It's potentially not good," Jonathan McDowell, Astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University, told The Guardian. "Last time they launched a Long March 5B rocket they ended up with big long rods of metal flying through the sky and damaging several buildings in the Ivory Coast," he said.

The tumbling core's 17,149 mph speed makes it impossible to know where it will land. The "exact entry point into the Earth's atmosphere" won't be clear until within hours of reentry.

The good news is that we're in very little danger of being squashed by falling debris. With water covering 71% of the planet, an ocean landing is the most likely outcome.

"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 Center at Harvard University, told CNN.

"What's bad is that it's really negligent on China's part. Things more than ten tonnes we don't let them fall out of the sky uncontrolled deliberately," McDowell added.

Permalink to story.

 

NicktheWVAHick

Posts: 266   +352
I’m sure the geniuses at the Pentagon who are tracking this thing will give us ample warning to move out of the way a few nanoseconds before it hits.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,045   +3,180
"What's bad is that it's really negligent on China's part. Things more than ten tonnes we don't let them fall out of the sky uncontrolled deliberately," McDowell added.

Apparently 9 ton objects are allowed to fall with impunity :)
 

Kosmoz

Posts: 204   +322
If only it would fall back to their country, not damaging anything or anyone, but to scare them a little and make them rethink this lack of care and ignorance about such things.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,256   +1,386
TechSpot Elite
More anti-Chinese propaganda. I remember reading that because of Biden's new foreign policy of taking on near-peers, the media will be stepping up anti-China rhetoric to manufacture the consent of the American people. This article is a good case-in-point.

Are we to believe that the USA has never made a mistake like this? I don't believe it for a second. What I do believe is that they fell all over themselves making sure it was completely covered up. What has been called "Soviet-Style Secrecy" has always been alive and well in the USA, they just never publicised it. Every time you hear the term "National Security", that's "Soviet-Style Secrecy" in action on US soil.
 

Scrye74

Posts: 33   +66
More anti-Chinese propaganda. I remember reading that because of Biden's new foreign policy of taking on near-peers, the media will be stepping up anti-China rhetoric to manufacture the consent of the American people. This article is a good case-in-point.

Are we to believe that the USA has never made a mistake like this? I don't believe it for a second. What I do believe is that they fell all over themselves making sure it was completely covered up. What has been called "Soviet-Style Secrecy" has always been alive and well in the USA, they just never publicised it. Every time you hear the term "National Security", that's "Soviet-Style Secrecy" in action on US soil.

Blah blah blah, look at me, I love the Chinese. Is there a giant chunk of Chinese tech about to fall out of the sky in an unknown location or not?
 

Scrye74

Posts: 33   +66
If only it would fall back to their country, not damaging anything or anyone, but to scare them a little and make them rethink this lack of care and ignorance about such things.

I suspect that, unless there was significant collateral damage to their own country, they will not be learning from this. I base this opinion on how they treat the environment, IP and human rights.
 

Arbie

Posts: 260   +490
Mar-a-Lago.

{OFC a zillion places are equally likely - I just happened to start there in the alphabet].
 

AMN3S1AC

Posts: 58   +29
Gotta love the Chinese, they just keep providing the rest of the world with fun, happy times.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,256   +1,386
TechSpot Elite
The main issue most people have with this is that it's NOT A MISTAKE. It was just easier to let it fall out the sky than try to do a proper job, which is pretty shitty no? Especially given what happened last time...
We don't know that it wasn't a mistake. Not being a mistake doesn't make sense because since there's no way to know where it's going to land, they're as much at risk as anyone else. The Chinese are far from stupid and aren't looking to embarrass or kill themselves. The idea that it's not a mistake is the propaganda part of the article because how the hell would the author know this for sure? This is called Manufacturing Consent.

As for doing a shitty job, have you ever heard of the Ford Pinto? Never mind a shitty job, Ford KNEW IN ADVANCE that some people would die HORRIBLY and some would suffer terrible burns because of a certain defect in its construction. Ford decided to go ahead with it because their bean counters projected that it would be cheaper to deal with the lawsuits from families of people who got roasted alive than to fix the problem.
The Pinto Memo
So, who went to prison for this? Nobody.

How about the Chevy Corvair? GM Engineers ARGUED with management over management's decision to omit a front sway bar, a decision that made the car extremely dangerous just to cut costs. The car was so dangerous that it prompted Ralph Nader to write (what many believe to be his Magnus Opus) Unsafe at Any Speed which was a damning look into the American Auto Industry with the Corvair used as a prime example. So, who went to prison for this? Nobody.

Let's talk about shitty jobs. How good was the job that the USA did in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan? I think that everyone knows about the lie that led to the endless wars and American occupation in the Middle East. I believe it had to do with "Wehpuhns of mayass deestrucshun!", sound familiar?

I'm not trying to rag on the United States, say that I love China or make any political statement whatsoever. What I am saying that people make mistakes, especially with something as complex as space flight (remember Apollo 13?). The United States is in NO position to criticise China from a morality standpoint because it has been proven guilty not only of mistakes, but of willful and callous negligence based solely on profit.

Just because something bad happens doesn't mean that it's intentional. We all know that **** happens and it's part of the accepted risk we all take. Does this suck? Absolutely! Is it frightening? Absolutely! Should China be demonised over it? Absolutely not. There are many reasons to demonise China (Human rights abuses comes to mind) but this isn't one of them.

Even so, none of our "Great Western Nations" has a clean past and while I don't advocate saying nothing, we really should do a better job of picking our spots. Remember that powerful people in the military-industrial complex have an agenda and that agenda is to ALWAYS have a boogeyman for the American people so that more and more money can be spent on weapons of war. All you need to do is look at what has already happened and where we currently are.

I hear the media referring the increase in Chinese military spending as "aggressive" and "alarming" but I never hear the media say the same thing about the fact that the USA spends more on its military spending than the next 10 nations combined (Including China and Russia). So, if Americans are alarmed by Chinese and Russian military spending, then the Chinese and the Russians should be terrified by the military spending levels of the USA.

Make no mistake, NO country on Earth is a military threat to the United States of America, with or without NATO. I think that it's time for Americans to realise this and relax a bit because it looks a lot like an elephant being afraid of a mouse.

Of course, powerful corporations like Lockheed-Martin, Northrop-Grumman, Boeing, Electric Boat and Raytheon want the American people nervous because nervous people are a lot more willing to support the giving of more money to them.
 
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