The Chinese missile is likely to make uncontrolled re-entry

The Long March 5B rocket launched Tiangong's first unit - called Tianhe - into orbit in April 2021.

The Long March 5B rocket launched Tiangong’s first unit – called Tianhe – into orbit in April 2021.
picture: STR / CNS / AFP (Getty Images)

A powerful rocket is set to blast off from the Wenchang space launch site in Hainan on a mission to expand China’s first space station. Similar to previous launches of the Long March 5B missile, the missile could perform a dangerous, uncontrolled return on its return.

China is in the midst of building the Tiangong space station – the country’s response to the International Space Station – with one of the station’s units already in place. Chinese space agency prepares to launch station Wentian The module, which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, July 24 from the Wenchang space launch site in Hainan.

Space.com Reports indicate that China began launching its Long March 5B — a 174 feet (53 meters) high, 1.87 million pounds (848220 kg) rocket — to the launch pad over the course of two hours on Monday. Once launched, the Wentian unit you will meet with tianhe A unit in low Earth orbit, where tianheHis robotic arm will move Wentian in its final location. three Shenzhou-14 . astronauts He will salute the unit when it arrives.

The Long March 5B missile is somewhat notorious, as it is of the same model Missile out of control It returned to Earth last spring uncontrollably, as the wreck eventually fell into the Indian Ocean near the Maldives. It could have been much worse, as there was a possibility of debris falling on populated areas. In fact, this the exact thing It happened after the launch of the Long March 5B rocket on May 20, 2020, where debris fell on the west coast of Africa and damaged some structures (fortunately no one was hurt). A recent study indicates that there is a file 10% risk in the next decade that falling missile parts will cause casualtiesso this is not empty talk.

Gizmodo website asked Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, if parts of the Long March 5B rocket could be re-entered. “I would say almost certainly,” he replied via email. “I would be very pleasantly surprised if they change the design of the base stage. I expect they haven’t and we are ready for another ride like last time.”

With launch and placement WentianAnd the Tiangong It will be completed halfway. tianheIn ., the first module whose name translates to “Heaven Harmony” April 2021and will serve as the station’s life support, living quarters, control center, and docking hub for the remaining modules. Wentian, or Quest for the Heavens, will feature additional crew quarters, but the unit’s main purpose is to serve as a base for scientific research. two more units –Mengtian And the Xuntian—Scheduled for release in October 2022 and with an unspecified launch in 2023.

China is stepping up efforts to project itself as an important player in space, but the country is creating a track record of misbehavior along the way. Hopefully, things will go smoothly for the upcoming launch, but for China, the uncontrolled return of the Long March 5B missiles may be a feature rather than a bug, which is sad.

more: What to know about Moon Gate, NASA’s future lunar orbit space station

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