Pentagon Tracking Rogue Chinese Rocket That May Reenter Earth’s Atmosphere

Just last week, a rocket was launched as part of a Chinese effort to establish a new space station. As indicated here, it appears the launch was largely successful. The comedown, not so much.

A recent statement by the Pentagon indicated they are currently tracking the movements of the large Chinese rocket. It is reportedly out of control, sparking concerns about where it may end up falling.

According to Defense Department spokesperson Mike Howard, The Chinese Long March 5B rocket will likely enter Earth’s atmosphere “around May 8.” Howard said that the US Space Command is currently tracking its trajectory.

The rocket’s “exact entry point into the Earth’s atmosphere” can’t be formally determined until we are hours from reentry, Howard said. He also indicted 18th Space Control Squadron will provide daily updates on the rocket’s location through the Space Track website.

Most debris from space burn up in the atmosphere before they have a chance to reach the ground. The concern with this particular rocket is its size – at 22 tons it may just be enough to reenter Earth and still do damage.

In an interview with CNN, Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University, said that the situation is “not the end of days.”

“I don’t think people should take precautions. The risk that there will be some damage or that it would hit someone is pretty small — not negligible, it could happen — but the risk that it will hit you is incredibly tiny. And so I would not lose one second of sleep over this on a personal threat basis,” he said.

“There are much bigger things to worry about.”

McDowell went on to explain that the rocket will most likely land in the ocean without harming anybody, with a prediction for the same outcome should it end up elsewhere.

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