Following the successful splashdown of the Crew-1 module earlier this week, we bring you alarming news about a piece of space debris that is set to hit Earth… some time.
The reason for that vagueness is simple – nobody seems to know where this debris will land. The debris in question is China’s Long March 5B rocket which carried modules for China’s space station into orbit just last week.
The rocket’s core stage however, also seems to have reached orbit and according to Space News, it’s headed back to Earth in an uncontrolled re-entry.
“Most expendable rocket first stages do not reach orbital velocity and reenter the atmosphere and land in a pre-defined reentry zone. Some other larger, second stages perform deorbit burns to lower altitude to reduce time in orbit and lower chances of collisions with other spacecraft or to immediately reenter the atmosphere,” writes Space News.
Predictions of where Long March 5B will make landfall are about as broad as the Earth itself. The orbital inclination of 41.5 degrees means it could land in New York, Madrid, Chile, Wellington, right now it’s not clear though.
It’s said that the Long March 5B weighs around 21 tons in dry mass (that is without fuel), but how much of that mass will end up hitting Earth is a guessing game right now.
While 100 tons of space debris enters our atmosphere every year, this event could see the largest uncontrolled reentry since 1990.
Keep your eyes skyward for the next few days, just in case Long March 5B makes an appearance over your head.