Chinese rocket debris set for re-entry in coming hours- tracking centers

Chinese rocket debris set for re-entry in coming hours- tracking centers

Aerospace Corp. and Space-Track.org are following the rocket as it descends.

According to earlier calculations by Russia's Roscosmos, the rocket could enter Earth's atmosphere as soon as 9 May, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

The Long March 5B - comprising one core stage and four boosters - lifted off from China's Hainan island on April 29 with the unmanned Tianhe module, which contains what will become living quarters on a permanent Chinese space station.

Howard said the United States was tracking the rocket segment but "its exact entry point into the Earth's atmosphere can not be pinpointed until within hours of its re-entry".

There are 10 more missions planned to complete the station.

Scientific agencies around the world continue to try and predict where the debris from the Chinese CZ-5B rocket will eventually land, providing maps with possible trajectories. After the unmanned Tianhe module separated from the rocket, the almost 21,000-kilogram rocket should have followed a planned reentry trajectory into the ocean.

The current speed of the rocket is estimated to be about 18,000 miles per hour and it is expected to orbit the Earth 1.3 times during that two-hour window of time, said Ripley, "which is why there's still such a huge window of possibility for the estimated reentry".

Space-Track, reporting data collected by U.S. Space Command, estimated the debris would make reentry over the Mediterranean Basin.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that "this rocket debris" is "almost the body of the rocket, as I understand it, nearly intact, coming down, and we think Space Command believes somewhere around the 8th of May".

Harvard-based astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell previously told Reuters there is a chance that pieces of the rocket could come down over land, perhaps in a populated area, as in May 2020, when pieces from the first Long March 5B rained down on the Ivory Coast. It passes by just north of New York, Madrid, and Beijing, and as far south as Chile and New Zealand.

While there were still varying estimates of where the rocket would land, it appeared increasingly likely it would not hit the United States.

"We have the capability to do a lot of things, but we don't have a plan to shoot it down as we speak", Austin said.

And so we watch and wait, hoping for a big splash.

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