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Chinese rocket Long March 5B crashes near Maldives

CM 08/05/2021

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A Chinese rocket which recently launched a space station into orbit hurtled back to Earth late Saturday night in an uncontrolled descent, and finally crashed into the ocean near the island nation of the Maldives early Sunday morning.It is believed that most of the debris from the rocket burnt up in the atmosphere, according to Reuters, citing Chinese state media.International reports said that the rocket would fall back to Earth by about 7 a.m. Israel time.

The rocket landed at longitude 72.47 degrees east, latitude 2.65 degrees north, which would place it right next to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.
There was great uncertainty surrounding the reentry, with experts having been uncertain where the rocket would land and how large the pieces of the rocket would be after reentry. 
Israel was within the areas in which the rocket could fall, with the predicted crash sites having ranged from Central America to New Zealand. However, most of the area (over 90%) along the predicted reentry path was over water, so an ocean landing seemed the most likely.
On Sunday morning, the China Manned Space Engineering Office said that the debris from the rocket would make its re-entry over a location at longitude 28.38 degrees east and latitude 34.43 degrees north, somewhere over the Mediterranean Sea.Footage taken by Jordanian news site Al Bawaba seemed to have shown parts of the rocket hurtling over the sky in the Middle East, specifically over Qurayyat in Saudi Arabia.

One Israeli over social media claimed to have seen it in the sky with visible fire, and shared a video to Twitter.

However, the exact details were unconfirmed. Regardless, the Aerospace Corporation had said that based on the absence of new data sets, the rocket could have reentered. The data sets in question are made when the rocket passes over one of a collection of sensors. However, it seems that the rocket had missed some of them as of late, indicating it could have reentered.

Astronomer Jonathan McDowell claimed that data indicated it likely reentered somewhere between the Middle East and Australia, and shared several videos on social media from Oman and Haifa, the latter of which seems to be a confirmed sighting.

The Long March 5B rocket’s descent was “one of the largest instances of uncontrolled reentry” and there were fears it could fall on an inhabited area, SpaceNews reported, although it was more likely to fall in an uninhabited area as most of the Earth is uninhabited, with the odds of a person being hit by space debris sitting at about one in several trillion.

The first time the 30-meter long Long March 5B was launched, it nearly landed on US soil.
China launched an unmanned module last month containing what will become living quarters for three crew on a permanent space station that it plans to complete by the end of 2022, state media reported.
The module, named “Tianhe,” or “Harmony of the Heavens,” was launched on the Long March 5B, China’s largest carrier rocket, at 11:23 a.m. (0323 GMT) from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre on the southern island of Hainan.
Tianhe is one of three main components of what would be China’s first self-developed space station, rivaling the only other station in service – the International Space Station (ISS).
Tianhe forms the main living quarters for three crew members in the Chinese space station, which will have a life span of at least 10 years.
The Tianhe launch was the first of 11 missions needed to complete the space station, which will orbit Earth at an altitude of 340 to 450 km (211-280 miles).
In the later missions, China will launch the two other core modules, four manned spacecraft and four cargo spacecraft.
Reuters contributed to this report.


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