A Chinese space missile crashes around Earth at a speed of nearly 28,000 kilometers per hour, and is getting closer and closer. This weekend it will fall to the ground, but no one knows exactly where.
The launch of the Long March 5B missile last week was celebrated as a huge success in China. The 30-meter spacecraft carried the first part of what will be China’s new space station.
China is in a hurry to take the lead, even in space.
– Now they are speeding up. Space expert Keith Cowing says they’ll do everything in a year and a half.
On the way down to earth
When you’re in a hurry, things can turn a little bit. Although the space station arrived safely, the Chinese had no plan for the massive launch vehicle. It is now thrown aside as space debris, and is on its way into the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 28,000 kilometers per hour.
The recommendations are that you should get rid of it in a controlled way, as many do today, says the head of department at the Norwegian Space Center, Yngvild Linnea Andalsvik.
But China hasn’t had time to make such considerations, so the big tension now is where, and when, 22 tons of the metal will land.
Andalsvik thinks it will happen on Sunday. The only thing she can say for sure is that she will not land in Norway, but rather in the south.
There is a possibility it will strike in populated areas, but most of the Earth’s surface is the sea, says Andalsvik.
Last year, parts of a Chinese missile hit remote areas of West Africa. Experts believe it was just a coincidence that it did not hit New York.
– That might not be good. The last time they launched a Long March 5B missile, Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell told The Guardian that it ended up with large metal fragments flying in the sky, damaging several buildings in Ivory Coast.
Most likely it burns out
There is a high probability that the missile will burn out when it hits the Earth’s atmosphere, but it is possible that large debris will collide with the ground.
– It is always difficult to know how much is left of the block and how many parts it divides into without knowing the design of the thing. But the rule of thumb is that between 20 and 40 percent of the mass survives, says ESC’s head of security, Holger Garage, according to Interested in the business.
It will not be clear until the last minute where the missile will end up on Sunday.
Will the time be sufficient to start the evacuation, for example?
It is not known precisely where it will end up having any purpose, says Andalsfik.
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