Debris from the Chinese rocket launched on July 24 is expected to fall back to Earth overnight from Saturday to Sunday. The exact location of the fallen debris is not yet known for sure.
In the sea? In Africa? In Europe or even in France? No one knows yet where the debris from the Chinese Long March-5B (LM-5B) rocket will fall back to Earth. The rocket was launched on Sunday July 24 to deliver a new module to China’s Tiangong space station, which should be operational by the end of the year. The first stage of the engine must return at night this Saturday July 30 to Sunday July 31, 2022. If some elements must be consumed when entering the atmosphere, others may reach the ground.
Ambiguity reigns for now. The exact time when the rocket will land is still unknown. The margin of error is about fifteen hours. Or the exact location. According to the US Space Command, the space command of the United States, the parts will escape the control of the Chinese authorities. According to estimates, the debris could crash between the 41st parallel north – the latitude of Madrid or Naples in Europe – and the 41st parallel south, south of Africa. 88% of the world’s population is theoretically affected.
So the air in southern Europe is at risk, says the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). On the other hand, France survived this threat. The exact location must be known several hours before the debris enters the atmosphere.
A Chinese rocket of more than 20 tons in an uncontrolled descent towards Earth: debris may crash in the coming days
A rocket with one stage
The Long March-5B rocket is 33 meters long and weighs 20 tons. Unlike other satellite launchers, it does not have two stages that separate to fall back into the ocean, but one stage. A week later, the space agency responsible for human spaceflight (CMSA) called the launch a “total success”, explaining that the Wentian module “successfully separated from the rocket to place itself in the planned orbit.”
The Chinese launched their first rocket in May 2020. The fall of the engine caused some damage to houses in Côte d’Ivoire, but no major damage or injury. The second launch resulted in debris falling in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The attitude of the Chinese was strongly criticized by the director of NASA. “Space nations must minimize risks to people and property on Earth. It is clear that China has failed to meet standards of responsibility for its space debris.”