China’s space agency will crash an ‘out-of-control’ rocket into the Earth’s surface, and worried postures emerge.
Debris from a Chinese rocket is about to enter Earth for an uncontrolled collision with the planet. The Long March 5B rocket is circling in Earth orbit after placing the Mengtian laboratory module, which will be part of China’s space station. The debris from the rocket is expected to enter the Earth’s atmosphere and eventually collide with the surface or crash into the ocean.
The issue of space debris is becoming unsustainable, humans are not only polluting the Earth with terrestrial debris from anthropological activities, but space debris is already a problem. Added to this is the influx of rocket debris entering the Earth from space.
Most space agencies have a practice of crashing some rocket debris into Earth, the International Space Station itself will have this fate. In many cases they do this in a controlled manner; however, the China National Space Administration has already crashed three rockets in an uncontrolled way and now plans to repeat the feat.
25-ton rocket to re-enter Earth
China’s Long March 5B rocket, which weighs approximately 25 tons and was launched last October 31, will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, albeit in an uncontrolled way, and then impact at some unknown location.
The Chinese rocket was launched to launch into orbit the laboratory module called Mengtian, which will be part of the space station that the Asian country has proposed to build in orbit. However, once the rocket accomplished its mission of transporting the module into space, it has been circling the Earth and is expected to re-enter the lower layers of the atmosphere to finally crash into the Earth’s surface.
The collision is scheduled for November 5 at 23:51 EDT. The exact location of the impact is unknown, hence it is labeled as an ‘out of control’ entry.
China dismisses concerns
This is not the first time the Chinese space agency has had such a practice, this is the fourth space object that the Asian country has collided with the Earth in an uncontrolled manner. It has been said that this is standard practice and dismissed concerns about possible damage.
Contrary to this, NASA has already stated its position on such events in past collisions. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in May 2021 when a similar event occurred, “Spacefaring nations should minimize the risks to people and property on Earth from space object re-entries and maximize transparency concerning those operations.” To this, he added that “it is clear that China does not meet responsible standards concerning its space debris.”
On that occasion, Nelson urged China and other spacefaring nations to act responsibly and transparently in space to ensure the safety, stability, and long-term sustainability of outer space activities.
According to The Aerospace Corporation, the chances of human settlements being damaged by uncontrolled rocket re-entry are minimal, 1 in 1000. The risk to single people is even smaller according to the corporation, as low as 1 in 10 billion.
Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva