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Uncontrollable China rocket hurtles towards re-entry

6 May 2021, 12:00 UTC
Uncontrollable China rocket hurtles towards re-entry
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April 29, 2021, liftoff of the Long March 5B rocket carrying the Tianhe core module for the Chinese Space Station. The core stage is due to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in early May. Image via CCTV/ SpaceNews.
China’s 100-foot (30-m) Long March 5B rocket successfully launched the Tianhe space station module last Thursday, April 29, 2021. That module will become the living quarters of the future Chinese Space Station. It’s currently in its correct orbit after separating from the core stage of the rocket as planned. The core stage, however, also reached orbit and is now descending again, on a path to be one of the largest-ever pieces of space debris to make an uncontrolled re-entry back into Earth’s atmosphere. It’s not yet clear exactly where or when the debris will hit our planet (we’re seeing a prediction of “around May 8” from experts). No one knows whether, when it falls, it’ll land on an uninhabited – or inhabited – part of Earth.
According to SpaceNews, the object’s orbital inclination, or tilt, of 41.5 degrees means it passes a little farther north than cities at about 40 degrees north latitude, including New York City, Madrid and Beijing. It passes as far ...

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