A Chinese rocket which recently launched a space station into orbit is hurtling back towards Earth in an uncontrolled descent, with the rocket expected to fall back to Earth by about 7 a.m. Israel time, according to international reports.
There is great uncertainty surrounding the reentry, with experts still uncertain where the rocket will land and how large the pieces of the rocket will be after reentry. The rocket may even have already have fallen into the ocean.
Current predictions by the Aerospace Corporation have the the Long March 5B reentering over the Pacific Ocean early on Sunday morning. The rocket may already have fallen into the ocean.
Israel is within the areas in which the rocket could fall, with the predicted crash sites ranging from Central America to New Zealand. However, most of the area (over 90%) along the predicted reentry path is over water, so the rocket will likely land in water.
On Sunday morning, the China Manned Space Engineering Office said that the debris from the rocket will make its re-entry over a location at longitude 28.38 degrees east and latitude 34.43 degrees north, somewhere over the Mediterranean Sea.
The Long March 5B rocket’s descent will be “one of the largest instances of uncontrolled reentry” and could fall on an inhabited area, SpaceNews reported, although it is 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.
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