Remnants of China’s largest rocket launched last week were expected to plunge back through the atmosphere late yesterday or early today, a US federally funded space-focused research and development center said.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday that most debris from the rocket would be burned up on re-entry and is highly unlikely to cause any harm, after the US military said that what it called an uncontrolled re-entry was being tracked by US Space Command.
In a Twitter post sent on Friday evening in the US, the Aerospace Corporation said that the latest prediction for the re-entry of the Long March 5B rocket body by its Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies (CORDS) was for eight hours on either side of 4:19am Greenwich Mean Time today.
CORDS’ latest “informed prediction” of the rocket body’s re-entry location was given near the North Island of New Zealand, but it noted that re-entry was possible anywhere along paths covering large swathes of the globe.
The Long March 5B — comprising one core stage and four boosters — lifted off from China’s Hainan island on Thursday last week with the uncrewed Tianhe module, which contains what is to become living quarters on a permanent Chinese space station.
The Long March 5 family of rockets have been integral to China’s near-term space ambitions — from the delivery of modules and crew of its planned space station to launches of exploratory probes to the moon and even Mars.
The Long March launched last week was the second deployment of the 5B variant since its maiden flight in May last year.
Harvard-based astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell previously told Reuters that there is a chance that pieces of the rocket could come down over land, perhaps in a populated area, as in May last year, when pieces from the first Long March 5B rained down on the Ivory Coast, damaging several buildings, although no injuries were reported.
Debris from Chinese rocket launches is not uncommon within China. Late last month, authorities in the city of Shiyan, Hubei Province, issued a notice to people in the surrounding county to prepare for evacuation as parts were expected to land in the area.
“The Long March 5B re-entry is unusual because during launch, the first stage of the rocket reached orbital velocity instead of falling downrange as is common practice,” the Aerospace Corporation wrote in a blog post. “The empty rocket body is now in an elliptical orbit around Earth where it is being dragged toward an uncontrolled reentry.”
Chinese authorities have marshalled extraordinary resources to monitor a herd of traveling elephants and to keep it away from residential areas. Media reports quoted the Yunnan Forest Fire Brigade as saying that a team of eight people have been tracking the elephants, around the clock, on the ground and by drone. In the latest update, authorities said that the herd of wild Asian elephants had been tracked to a forest just outside a village in Xiyang Township, in Yunnan Province, about 90km southwest of the city of Kunming, heading back in the direction they came from. Drone images showed the elephants lying down
Tall, thin and brightly colored, Hanoi’s “tube houses” dominate the city’s streets as 9 million people compete for space in Vietnam’s bustling capital. Although Vietnam saw a number of villas and garden houses built during the French colonial period, Hanoi has few of these grand residential homes. Instead, tree-lined streets are packed with dwellings that are barely 4m wide, but are three times that in depth. Typically, a tube house might be home to a family of four, but two or three generations of relatives sometimes have to jostle for space. The first tube houses — known as nha ong in Vietnamese — are
The head of the Philippine military on Monday visited a coral-fringed island his country occupies in the South China Sea, a move that could stoke already heightened tensions between Manila and Beijing in disputed waters claimed by both countries. During the visit, Philippine Armed Forces Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana commended service members for the role they played in protecting the island’s residents and “guarding the country’s territories” in the strategic waterway. The visit comes after diplomatic protests made by the Philippines in the past few months over what it says is the illegal presence of hundreds of “Chinese maritime militia” vessels inside
Maori might have been the first to discover Antarctica, with connections to the icy continent and its surrounding oceans stretching back to the seventh century, researchers say. A new paper by University of Otago combines literature and oral histories, and concludes that Maori were likely the first people to explore Antarctica’s surrounding waters and possibly the continent in the distance. They write that Maori and Polynesian journeys to the deep south have been occurring for a long time, perhaps as far back as the 7th century, and are recorded in a variety of oral traditions. The oral histories of Maori groups Ngti Rrua