Debris From China Rocket Launched In April May Hit Abuja, Other Cities

Chinese rocket debris could land near NZ today

The military is analyzing the possibility of debris from the rocket surviving reentry and falling to Earth.

Space-Track, using USA military data, tweeted that the window for re-entry is now predicted to be 0104-0304 GMT Sunday, but cautioned that the uncertainty about the timing made the location hard to pinpoint.

A large segment of China's Long March-5B rocket, pictured here during launch on April 29, 2021, is expected to make an uncontrolled re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on Friday that the debris would burn up on re-entry calling its descent "common worldwide practice".

The rocket's "exact entry point into the Earth's atmosphere" can't be pinpointed until within hours of re-entry, Howard said, but the 18th Space Control Squadron is providing daily updates on the rocket's location through the Space Track website.

US Space Command released information online giving the projected time of reentry, but also says there is a window of plus or minus 60 minutes.

Harvard-based astronomer Jonathan McDowell tweeted on Saturday: "New 18SPCS Space Force prediction narrows things down to one orbit: Costa Rica, Haiti, Iberia, Sardinia, Italy, Greece and Crete, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Australia, New Zealand".

The Long March 5B rocket, which carried a Chinese space station module, has dropped into low Earth orbit and now risks crashing back down.

McDowell previously told Reuters there is a chance that pieces of the rocket could come down over land, perhaps in a populated area, as in May 2020, when pieces from the first Long March 5B fell on Ivory Coast, damaging several buildings.

The rocket successfully launched the Tianhe module last week, which will become the living quarters of the future Chinese Space Station (CSS). No injuries were reported.

Scientific agencies around the world continue to try and predict where the debris from the Chinese CZ-5B rocket will eventually land, providing maps with possible trajectories. In late April, authorities in the city of Shiyan, in Hubei Province, issued a notice to people in the surrounding county to prepare for evacuation as parts were expected to land in the area. A 30-metre core section of the rocket is expected to make an uncontrolled re-entry on Sunday.

The empty core stage has been losing altitude since last week, but the speed of its orbital decay remains uncertain, due to unpredictable atmospheric variables.

The core stage of the first Long March 5B that returned to Earth past year weighed almost 20 tonnes, surpassed only by debris from the Columbia space shuttle in 2003, the Soviet Union's Salyut 7 space station in 1991, and NASA's Skylab in 1979.

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