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Chinese rocket to plunge back to Earth on the weekend – nobody knows where

7 May 2021 2:15 PM
Tags:
China
SPACE
Astronomy
South African Astronomical Observatory
Refilwe Moloto
Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto
Chinese Space Agency
Long March 5B
Tianhe
space station
Heavenly Harmony
Daniel Cunnama

"The Chinese space agency was negligent," says astronomer Dr. Daniel Cunnama. "It can hit anywhere."

A large component of a Chinese rocket is out of control and set to re-enter Earth's atmosphere this weekend.

Engineers worry it will not entirely burn up upon re-entry, and that large pieces of debris may crash into populated areas.

The component is part of the “Long March 5B” rocket that transported a module of the Tianhe Space Station (“Heavenly Harmony”).

A massive Chinese rocket is expected to crash this weekend - but no one knows where. © Ð?лекÑ?анд Марко/123rf.com

The United States is calling for “responsible space behaviour”, despite numerous of its spacecraft having crashed unintentionally into Earth.

Refilwe Moloto asked astronomer Dr. Daniel Cunnama (South African Astronomical Observatory) how likely this event is to cause real harm.

There’s an agreement… that there needs to be a plan to bring such large objects back… it didn’t happen… This may become increasingly common with the Chinese space programme.

Dr. Daniel Cunnama, astronomer - South African Astronomical Observatory

It’s clear in this case that it's negligent… This has happened before… some parts hit a village in Ivory Coast… It’s very concerning… It’s moving at about 25 000 km/h… We are predicting it to land sometime on Saturday or Sunday… the entire Earth is a possibility for where it will land…

Dr. Daniel Cunnama, astronomer - South African Astronomical Observatory

It’s about 10 storeys high… and over 20 tons… Parts of it will hit the ground… The hope is that most of it burns up…

Dr. Daniel Cunnama, astronomer - South African Astronomical Observatory

The Chinese… are going to build a space station. They’ll be sending eight or nine more rockets of this size up… The chances of something hitting a populated place goes up.

Dr. Daniel Cunnama, astronomer - South African Astronomical Observatory

Listen to the interview in the audio below [skip to 2:50].




7 May 2021 2:15 PM
Tags:
China
SPACE
Astronomy
South African Astronomical Observatory
Refilwe Moloto
Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto
Chinese Space Agency
Long March 5B
Tianhe
space station
Heavenly Harmony
Daniel Cunnama

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