_Chinese Rocket Debris

May 5, 2021
Rocket jet stream

This is not the end of days.

Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell on the debris from a Chinese rocket that’s expected to fall to Earth around this Saturday.
  • The Pentagon said exactly where it will hit "cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its reentry."
  • China launched The Long March 5B rocket (weighing between 20-25 tons at launch) on April 29. It carried a key part for China's permanent space station, currently in construction. 10 more missions are planned through 2022 to complete it.
  • Space experts expect much of the debris to burn up before re-entry, and to fall into the ocean, although there is a small chance it could hit a populated area. McDowell said the impact will likely be "equivalent of a small plane crash scattered over 100 miles."
  • This is not the first time: Last spring, a piece of a Chinese rocket weighing nearly 20 tons flew over New York and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean– the largest piece of space debris to hit Earth in decades.The European Space Agency estimated 9,000 tons of space junk are currently in orbit.

Why It Matters: A growing number of countries are entering the space race, which experts and governments say creates a need for stricter, more thorough regulations.


Space.com article

USA Today article (has some great graphs tracking the rocket's altitude and speed)

CNN article

Guardian article

by Jenna Lee,