China’s Long March-5B rocket could fall out of orbit, analyst says
May 4 (UPI) -- A U.S. astrophysicist is raising concerns about a Chinese carrier rocket used last week to launch the main module of a space station, as the rockets core could be falling out of the Earths orbit.
Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University, said it is possible some parts of the rocket will survive re-entry and cause damage on land, The Guardian reported Tuesday. Advertisement
If the shards make it to land, the destruction could be the "equivalent of a small plane crash scattered over 100 miles," McDowell said, according to the report.
Chinese state media said Thursday that the core module of its first domestically developed space station, the Tianhe, was successfully launched from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on Chinas Hainan Island. RELATED China launches core module of space station on Long March 5-B rocket
Xi Jinping congratulated the crew at the China Manned Space Engineering Office, but the government has since not commented on the status of the Long March rocket, which has entered a temporary orbit, according to McDowell.
"Whats bad is that its really negligent on Chinas part," the analyst said. "Things more than 10 tons we dont let them fall out of the sky uncontrolled deliberately." RELATED Report: U.S. spy planes deployed near North Korea amid possible military activity
Uncertainties about the direction of the rocket could mean its reentry could take place as far north as New York, Madrid and Beijing in the Northern Hemisphere, or as far south as southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand, according to The Guardian.
In April 2018, Chinas Tiangong 1 space station also spun out of control and re-entered the Earths atmosphere, according to CBS News and BBC at the time. RELATED State Dept. reaches $13M deal with Honeywell to settle allegations of violating export laws