Over the weekend, a fragment weighing more than 20 tons of a Chinese rocket will re-enter the atmosphere uncontrollably. It is likely that some pieces can reach the ground but it is not yet known where. However, the risk of damage is minimal.
It left on July 24 to bring the second module of the Chinese space station into space. Now, having accomplished its mission, the first stage of the Chinese Long March 5B rocket is crashing uncontrollably to Earth.
It weighs over 20 tons, and considering its size it probably won’t burn in the atmosphere at all. Fragments can reach the ground.
But it is still too early to know where. According to estimates, the return will take place between late Saturday morning and early Monday morning, in the range between 41 degrees north latitude and 41 degrees south latitude.
The risk that the event could cause damage is however minimal given that the inhabited areas are a very small portion of the earth’s surface.
This is not the first time such a situation has occurred. In May of last year, for example, the first stage of another Chinese Long March 5B rocket had a similar uncontrolled reentry into the atmosphere above the Indian Ocean, not far from the Maldives. In Beijing on that occasion came the criticisms of NASA, which complained about this approach that does not provide for a management of the re-entry phase.