Large parts of the world are concerned about the parts of a Chinese missile that threatens to crash uncontrolled on Earth. It is part of a Long March 5B-rocket that was recently launched to put the first module of the Chinese space station into orbit.
Usually, large rockets return to the atmosphere on their own, where they burn up in a controlled manner. Apparently the Chinese don’t do it that way. The same thing happened last year after they had carried out a test launch with the same rocket. Then people wondered whether the control system had not worked. The fact that this is now happening for a second time indicates that there is no control system in it.
Last year everything turned out more or less well, although debris ended up in Ivory Coast. But the trajectory of that rocket stage also leads over, for example, the East coast of the United States.
A prediction states when the thing could return. That would be between the 8th and 9th of May. But there is still a lot of uncertainty because there is a margin of 41 hours.
The first @SpaceTrackOrg TIP impact prediction message for the CZ-5B rocket is out: reentry predicted between 0100 UTC May 8 and 1900 UTC May 9. This is a narrower and weighted-earlier window than the @AerospaceCorp prediction of between 0000 UTC May 8 and 0800 UTC May 10. pic.twitter.com/ICJCstEbg5— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) May 5, 2021
The rocket is a 100 feet long and 16 feet wide tube that contains two large fuel tanks, plus a whole host of other tanks and engines. Which weighs about 20 tons in total.
Although the thing will disintegrate into pieces that usually burn up in the atmosphere, some pieces will fall on Earth. Canada and the most northern part of Europe should be safe because it is too far from the equator, other countries might be in for a pickle. The angle of the orbit with the equator is 41.5 degrees. This results in the danger zone being between 41 degrees north latitude and 41 degrees south latitude.