As Chinese Rocket, Long March 5B, Falls Back To Earth, Concern Rises Over Possible Debris Damage

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Long March 5 (Image: Wikimedia)

A huge Chinese Rocket, Long March 5B, is falling back to Earth, as space experts say its debris could land around 11:30 p.m. Saturday if the rocket doesn’t burn up on its way.

The Long March 5B rocket, 100-feet tall and weighs 22 tons, is reportedly out of control and falling at 18,000 miles an hour.

According to the European Space Agency, the risk zone, which the debris might fall, is between “41.5N and 41.5S,” which s New York, Africa and Australia, parts of Asia and Europe.

“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, ” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard University, said.

“And so I would not lose one second of sleep over this on a personal threat basis.”

McDowell, however, also predicted that the debris, if it comes down to the earth, is likely to land on the Pacific “because Pacific is most of the Earth.”

Earlier this week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has said that the U.S. currently has no plan to shoot down the rocket as he predicts the debris will land somewhere safe.

“We have the capability to do a lot of things, but we don’t have a plan to shoot it down as we speak,” said Austin Thursday.

Austin criticized China for its poor control of the situation.

“I think this speaks to the fact that for those of us who operate in the space domain, there should be a requirement to operate in a safe and thoughtful mode,” he said