People are noticing an obvious lack of concern for potential impact on human beings in Chinese approach to scientific experiments.
I have noted that the Chinese are gearing up for a space-race with the U.S.
What is the state of their aersospace engineering? It appears they are as good with rockets as they are with handling bat viruses.
Debris from a Chinese rocket is expected to fall back to Earth in an uncontrolled re-entry this weekend.
The main segment from the Long March-5b vehicle was used to launch the first module of China’s new space station last month.
At 18 tonnes it is one of the largest items in decades to have an undirected dive into the atmosphere.
The US on Thursday said it was watching the path of the object but currently had no plans to shoot it down.
“We’re hopeful that it will land in a place where it won’t harm anyone,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. “Hopefully in the ocean, or someplace like that.”
This isn’t the first time this situation has arisen as a result of a Chinese launch, either. Last year, part of a Chinese rocket that was one of the largest pieces of uncontrolled space debris ever, passed directly over Los Angeles before landing in the Pacific Ocean.
The 18-ton rocket that fell last May was the heaviest debris to fall uncontrolled since the Soviet space station Salyut 7 in 1991.
China’s first space station, Tiangong-1, crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 2016 after Beijing confirmed it had lost control. In 2019, the space agency controlled the demolition of its second station, Tiangong-2, in the atmosphere.
People are beginning to notice the obvious lack of concern for the potential impact on fellow human beings in the Chinese approach to scientific experiments.
The country’s space program has executed a series of major achievements in spaceflight in the past six months, including returning rocks from the moon and putting a spacecraft in orbit around Mars. Yet it continues to create danger, however small, for people all over the planet by failing to control the paths of rockets it launches.
“I think it’s negligent of them,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., who tracks the comings and goings of objects in space. “I think it’s irresponsible.”
The piece that will be dropping out of the sky somewhere is the core booster stage of the Long March 5B, which was designed to lift the big, heavy pieces of the space station. For most rockets, the lower stages usually drop back to Earth immediately after launch. Upper stages that reach orbit usually fire the engine again after releasing their payloads, guiding them toward re-entry in an unoccupied area like the middle of an ocean.
Over the past three decades, only China has lifted rocket stages this big to orbit and left them to fall somewhere at random, Dr. McDowell said.
For those of you interested, there are several ways to track the uncontrolled descent of the Chinese rocket.
U.S. Space Command is updating space-track.org at least once a day with the latest information about where the rocket is likely to fall, based on parameters such as how high Earth’s atmosphere is billowing and how drag is expected to affect the massive Chinese vehicle.
The Aerospace Corporation, which supports national security space programs, posts regularly on its Twitter feed and occasionally on Medium about the core stage status. More details about re-entry predictions are also available on its website.
Another Twitter feed to keep an eye on is that of Jonathan McDowell, a well-known tracker of uncontrolled falls in the U.S. space community. He’s been posting several times a day about the progress of the Long March 5B.
Here’s hoping that the projections of an ocean landing are correct.
The rocket that carried part of China’s new space station into orbit last week is going to fall back to earth in the next few days.
But it’s unclear when or where.
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) May 3, 2021
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