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Chinese Rocket Falls Back Into Earth For The Fourth Time


On Friday, debris from a 23-ton center Chinese rocket uncontrollably re-entered earth in the Pacific Ocean, tweeted the United States Space Command. Launched on October 31, 2022, the Long March 5B carried the Mengtian module, the third and final component of China’s Tiangong Space Station.

The event caused panic worldwide, including in Spain, Barcelona, Tarragona, Rues, and Ibiza, where the authorities closed the airspace over airports as a precautionary measure. Unlike other similar incidents, many have criticized China for its irresponsibility.

Dr. Ted Muelhaupt, a consultant for Aerospace Corporation, said in a news conference, “I want to highlight that we, the world, do not purposely launch things this huge expecting them to land wherever; we have not done that for 50 years.”

However, Zhao Lijian, the foreign ministry spokesman, responded on Friday by rejecting the notion and commented, “I would like to stress that China has always carried out every activity of outer space in a peaceful manner following international law and practice. Moreover, the re-entry of the last stage of Long March 5B was in line with international standards.”

The Odds of Damage

According to Dr. Muelhaupt, the chances of being hit by the rocket differed according to the continents. For instance, the people of Europe, Russia, South America, and Asia had zero damage. However, outside those zones, the chances were minuscule and not zero.

He remarked that people had better chances of winning the lottery than being hit by the Chinese rocket. In nearly eight billion people on earth, he put the odds at 0.5%. However, the minute probability of someone being injured or killed was “enough for the world to watch and take precautionary measures,” said Dr. Muelhaupt.

Why is the Chinese Rocket Different from Others?

The Long March 5B comprises a large booster center and four small side boosters. The four boosters dropped harmlessly in the Pacific Ocean while the core booster reached the orbit before releasing the load. Unfortunately, the rocket engineers still need to include a system where the center booster is redirected to empty parts of an ocean.

In the other two launches of Long March 5B, large chunks of metal landed near the populated villages of Indonesia and Malaysia. Then, in the first rocket launch in 2020, the booster uncontrollably re-entered West Africa, with debris landing in a town in Ivory Coast.

Image Source: CGTN

Edited by Devnum Nagar






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