Out-of-control Chinese rocket is falling back to Earth

The US Department of Defence has said it is tracking the Chinese Long March 5B-rocket that is out of control and set to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere this weekend.

The core of the Chinese Long March 5B rocket carried the “core module” of the country’s space station into low Earth orbit last week.

But after that mission was complete, the rocket appears to have fallen into an orbit that could see it plunge towards the Earth.Given the object’s orbit, the possible landing points are anywhere in a band of latitudes “a little farther north than New York, Madrid and Beijing and as far south as southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand”.

It is not clear how the 30-metre-tall rocket will fall, and where exactly it will land. Since 1990, nothing weighing more 10 tonnes have fallen back to Earth uncontrolled – and the Chinese rocket is thought to weigh about 10 tonnes.

The Defense Department said U.S. Space Command was tracking the rocket’s location and that re-entry was expected to be around May 8.”All debris can be potential threats to spaceflight safety and the space domain,” the Pentagon said, adding that the 18th Space Control Squadron in California would be offering daily updates on the rocket body’s location from May 4.

The White House said the United States was committed to addressing the risks of congestion due to space debris and wants to work with the international community “to promote leadership and responsible space behaviors.”

“It’s in the shared interests of all nations to act responsibly in space, to ensure the safety, stability, security and long term sustainability of outer space activities,” Psaki said. “We’re going to work with our international partners on that, and certainly addressing this is – is something we’ll do through those channels.”

The Global Times also cited aerospace expert Song Zhongping as saying China’s own space monitoring network will keep a close watch on areas under the rocket’s flight course and take measures to avoid damage to passing ships.The environmentally friendly fuel used by the Long March 5B would not pollute the ocean, he added.

“In all, it is another hyping of the so-called ‘China spacethreat’ adopted by some Western forces,” Song said.

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