The newest piece of the Chinese Long March 5B rocket is going to fall on Earth around this weekend, DailyMail reported. The 21-ton rocket was launched to space on July 24 2022. The rocket’s first stage was detached during the launch and will continue to shed in the coming days. Experts are unable to predict its falling trajectory or path due to changes in the atmosphere caused by fluctuations in solar activity.
Image credits: Wikipedia
Last May, a similar incident happened when a piece from the Long March rocket broke, and the debris fell in the Indian Ocean and north of the Maldives, raising an alarm about significant damage from its fall. However, it did not cause mass destruction and fell into the ocean.
What is the Long March 5B rocket?
Long March 5B is the first Chinese heavy-lift launch vehicle developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. It is 176 feet (53.64 meters) tall and weighs more than 1.8 million pounds. Long March 5B was designed to carry a solar-powered new lab, the Wentian experiment module, to be added to China’s developing space station, Tiangong. The rocket took off last weekend from the Wenchang launch site, Hainan and now a week later, experts are concerned that the rocket’s core parts can re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and fall posing a threat to human life.
Why is the rocket falling?
During a space launch, a rocket uses maximum fuel in the first stage, and the empty parts are shed to cut down extra weight. These parts burn and turn into small debris particles as they hit the atmosphere at a high speed. However, the case of the Long March 5B rocket is different. Experts say that the problem lies in the design and weight of the rocket. The larger the spacecraft, the launching process becomes difficult and risky. Further, the probability of falling a large number of space debris chunks also increases.
As far as the news “falling rocket” is concerned, China has been accused by NASA’s Administrator Bill Nelson of not meeting the required standards of their space debris and operations procedures. However, China has rejected accusations, similar to the past incidents, claiming that the chances of damage are low. Further, many scientists agree with China on this claim, while some believe that their launch designs like 5B are unwanted risks.
The country has previously sent different modules to the space station, Tiangong and is planning complete its development by launching several modules one by one. They launched the core module, Tianhe, in April 2021. In July 2022, Wentian, a module for experimental research, was attached to Tianhe. Mengtian, the second research module, is scheduled to launch in October 2022. China will also launch a space telescope, Xuntian, in 2024 that will co-orbit with the space station.
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