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Rabat – China launched a Long March-5B Y2 rocket on Wednesday, April 28 and debris from the rocket may impact Earth as the rocket is currently in an uncontrolled orbit.
The rocket carried the first module for China’s new space station which is planned to be completed by late 2022. China will launch 10 additional spacecraft to complete the low-Earth orbit space station.
Experts tracked the trajectory of the debris and stated it could fall within the longitude of New York and New Zealand, accounting for a large portion of inhabited land on Earth.
China has accidentally caused space debris to fall into uncontrolled orbit before, with the latest instance happening in May 2020. Another prototype fell uncontrollably and landed in the south Pacific Ocean in 2018.
Other space agencies are also guilty of irresponsible behavior. SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket in late March and debris from the rocket landed in a Washington State farm, leaving a 4-inch dent in the soil.
Astronomer Jonathan McDowell called China’s negligence “unacceptable” and said, “Since 1990 nothing over 10 tons has been deliberately left in orbit to reenter uncontrolled.”
The rocket is 54.4 feet (16.6 meters) long and 13.8 feet (4.2 m) across at its widest point. Scientists predict that the majority of the rocket will burn up in the atmosphere. However, 20-40% of the dry mass may remain intact.
China’s state-owned Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has yet to respond to criticism on the current rocket hurtling towards Earth.
Since the inauguration of the new space station program, China’s Academy of Space Technology (CAST) trained 18 new astronauts in preparation for the new space station.
China’s new space station will be able to host 6 crew members and will serve as an exploratory vessel for space-oriented research. Crew members will begin to man the station after the remaining shuttles deliver the final components.
Some experts have raised concerns over a new space race as China plans to conduct advanced experiments on medicine in microgravity. In the US, the intelligence community fears the station may serve as a new-age form of militaristic posturing.
In a recently released report on the new station, the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence said: “The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] will continue to integrate space services such as satellite reconnaissance and positioning, navigation, timing and satellite communications into its weapons and command-and-control systems to erode the US military’s information advantage.”