It’s true ! A rocket is being pulled back to Earth (and it won’t be serving egg fried rice either) 🙃

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Is a Chinese Rocket Falling to Earth, and ‘No One Knows’ Where It Will Crash?

An astrophysicist said the landing could “be the equivalent of a small plane crash scattered over 100 miles.”

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Rocket, In early May 2021, part of a Chinese rocket was falling to Earth, and could land at an unknown location., Transportation
Image via Getty Images

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Claim

In early May 2021, part of a Chinese rocket will fall to Earth, and it’s not entirely clear where the debris will land.

Rating

True

TrueAbout this ratingContext

It’s true, as of this writing, that the drag of Earth’s atmosphere is tugging a portion of a Chinese rocket out of orbit and that the debris could rain down across an as yet undetermined swath of the planet. The extent to which it will disintegrate in the process is also unknown, though the odds of the debris impacting property or land are low.

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Origin

In May 2021, narrators in viral TikTok videos claimed a portion of a massive Chinese rocket had left Earth’s orbit and was falling back to the planet where it would eventually land within the next couple weeks.

The catch? “No one knows where it’s going to crash,” one video claimed.

The underlying assertion was true. As of this writing, the drag of Earth’s atmosphere is tugging a portion of a Chinese rocket out of orbit and scientists are preparing for its debris to potentially rain somewhere on the planet — anywhere between the northern latitude lines of New York and southern locations of New Zealand.

But the extent of the rocket’s disintegration while descending remains unknown, and the odds of that debris impacting property or land are low.https://78358b8db135cc16debfe4289703f929.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University, told The Guardian the rocket’s landing could “be the equivalent of a small plane crash scattered over 100 miles,” and the debris will most likely land into the ocean considering Earth’s land-to-sea ratio.

Let us back up to understand how the rocket reached Earth’s orbit in the first place.

On April 29, China launched the main module of its first permanent space station (the module is called the Tianhe) using a 100-foot-tall Long March 5B rocket. Here’s how The Associated Press covered the event:

Minutes after the launch, the fairing opened to expose the Tianhe atop the core stage of the rocket, with the characters for “China Manned Space” emblazoned on its exterior. Soon after, it separated from the rocket, which will orbit for about a week before falling to Earth, and minutes after that, opened its solar arrays to provide a steady energy source.

In other words, as part of China’s space program, the Long March 5B rocket temporarily entered orbit in late April and its core was indeed falling back to Earth with its gravitational pull. Instead of following a predetermined path, however, the portion of the space vehicle was traveling in an “uncontrolled” manner — without an exact landing spot or course in mind.

“Huge rocket looks set for uncontrolled reentry following Chinese space station launch,” tweeted Andrew Jones, a journalist for SpaceNews.

Furthermore, the Aerospace Corporation, a U.S. research and development center, performed its own analysis of the object’s orbit and predicted that it would reenter the Earth’s atmosphere on May 10, plus or minus roughly two days.

https://78358b8db135cc16debfe4289703f929.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

However, exactly where that will happen — or how much of the rocket would disintegrate while descending to Earth — remains unknown.

SpaceNews, a credible source of news about the global space industry, reported on April 30 (one day after the rocket’s launch from the Wenchang Launch Center on the island of Hainan) that while much of the object will burn up, some debris could remain in tact and rain anywhere between the northern latitude lines of New York, Madrid and Beijing and southern locations of Chile and Wellington, New Zealand.

“Where and when the new Long March 5B stage will land is impossible to predict. The decay of its orbit will increase as atmospheric drag brings it down into more denser,” the article by Jones read. “The most likely event will see any debris surviving the intense heat of reentry falling into the oceans or uninhabited areas, but the risk remains of damage to people or property.”

McDowell, the astrophysicist, told The Guardian once scientists know the exact day of the event, they could predict the landing time within a six-hour window.

On May 4, the European Union’s Space Surveillance and Tracking agency (EUSST), a consortium of European countries that studies space objects orbiting Earth, said it was also monitoring the object’s trajectory.

“Our sensor network is observing the object in order to narrow downtime re-entry window expected in the coming days,” the agency tweeted.

It was not a first-of-its-kind event. Over the course of 50 or 60 incidents annually, objects weighing an average of 100 tons total reenter the Earth’s atmosphere in a similar uncontrolled way, Holger Krag, of the European Space Agency, told SpaceNews. 

However, since 1990, no space agency had deliberately left an object weighing more than 10 tons in orbit and allowed it to reenter Earth’s atmosphere with no clear landing plan, according to the news reports. Experts believe the core of the Long March 5B weighs about 21 metric tons.

In sum, considering credible observations of the object’s trajectory, as well as reports confirming the unknowns of its descent to Earth, we rate this claim “true.”

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Published by technofiend1

Kazan- Kazan National Research Technical University Казанский национальный исследовательский технический университет имени А. Н. Туполева he graduated in Economics in 1982

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