US News: A Chinese rocket threatens to fall back to earth in the coming days

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U N Success displayed, but unexpected fallout. On Sunday, China launched in space the second of the three modules of its space station under construction , as evidenced by images of CCTV public television. The machine named Wentian, about 20 tonnes and without astronaut on board, was propelled by a long 5B rocket from the launch center of Wenchang, on the tropical island of Hainan (south).

almost 18 meters long and a diameter of 4.2 m, this laboratory module will come to get to Tianhe, the first module of the station which has already been in orbit since April 2021. The operation is a challenge For the crew, because it requires several high precision manipulations, some of which with a robotic arm. But a week after the launch, US Space Command, an American command in charge of space operations, has fears concerning the rocket that propelled the module.

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According to CNN , they believe that this rocket, heavy with twenty tonnes, has now escaped China control and could fall for the earth this weekend or at the start of next week. An estimate, still wide, provides for a fall between the latitudes of 41 degrees south and 41 degrees north of the equator, in other words, France will not be affected, but the area includes a very large part of America and the 'Australia, all of Africa, southern Asia and southern Europe. This estimate will be more precise when the rocket approaches our atmosphere.

Video: Successful takeoff for the Ariane 5 rocket, which has placed two telecommunications satellites (BFMTV)

a very low human risk in orbit a very low human risk

Michael Byers, Professor at the University of Columbia-British , believes that fairly large pieces "will reach the surface". Human risk is, according to him, almost zero, "because there are now technologies and special missions intended to ensure controlled returns in the atmosphere (generally in remote places of the oceans) rather than uncontrolled and completely hazardous returns ».

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The concern of the US Space Command is all the more justified as the same problem occurred in May 2021, with the 5B rocket 5B which had propelled the first module of the Chinese station. After an uncontrolled entry into the atmosphere, most of the rocket had disintegrated above the Indian Ocean. The third and last module of the Chinese station should be launched by the end of the year.

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