Uncontrolled rocket debris expected to hit Earth soon. Could it land in the US?
The State (Columbia, S.C.) July 29, 2022
Another large Chinese rocket body is falling uncontrollably toward Earth, U.S. space experts said, and is expected to hit soon.
The Long March 5B rocket was launched in China on July 24 to deliver a module to China's Space Station, according to a news release from the Aerospace Corporation, a nonprofit research center funded by the U.S. government.
Now, the rocket body is making an uncontrolled reentry in Earth's atmosphere, the release said.
Predicting a time and location of reentry is difficult, experts of the Aerospace Corporation said in a news conference this week.
The most recent prediction expects the debris to reenter at 3:24 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday — give or take 7 hours — the Aerospace Corp. said Friday.
The rocket body is most likely to hit in an area that includes 88% of the world's population and a portion of the continental U.S., experts said at the news conference.
Aerospace Corp.'s most recent debris path prediction map showed most of the southern U.S. within the debris window.
The Long March 5B rocket is more than 175 feet tall and weighs more than 50,000 pounds, the release said. About 20% to 40% of the rocket body is expected to reach the ground, Live Science reported.
Debris will not fall all in one place, and experts expect the falling debris to hit water about 75% of the time.
However, falling debris from the same type of Chinese rocket caused property damage in Côte d'Ivoire, along the western coast of Africa, in May 2020, Fox San Antonio reported.
Because of the difficulty in tracking the trajectory of the falling debris, the impact area will not be pinpointed until an hour before the debris hits, Aerospace Corporation experts said.
According to Darren McKnight, a senior technical fellow for LeoLabs, said during the news conference that "your odds are going down in winning the lottery, but up in getting struck by space debris," because of the increasing frequency of space launches.
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