Thursday 06 May 2021
The European Space Agency predicted on Thursday that uncontrolled Chinese missile debris will enter Earth’s atmosphere again next Sunday at 0731 GMT – but plus or minus about 18 hours. The agency stressed that all forecasts are highly doubtful.
The agency added that the area concerned includes any part of the Earth’s surface between the latitudes located at a distance of 41.5 degrees north and 41.5 degrees south.
In Europe, this includes parts of Spain, Italy, Portugal, Malta and Greece. Generally speaking, large parts of North and South America, South Asia, Africa and Australia are areas of risk.
The “Long March 5B” rocket carried the “Tianhe” (Celestial Harmony) central capsule into space last Thursday, marking the beginning of the construction of the Chinese space station.
And Chinese state media had earlier played down concerns about the missile debris.
“It is very likely that debris will fall into international waters, and there is no reason for concern,” the English-language Global Times newspaper quoted an expert as saying.
The newspaper wrote that it is “common in space” for debris to fall on the ground.
The Global Times described the warnings as “nothing but Western hype about Chinas threat with regard to the advancement of space technology.”
The European Space Agency’s Space Waste Office said it was nearly impossible at the moment to predict which parts would survive the return flight. Experts said that materials resistant to melting at high temperatures, such as engine structures, pose a special danger, but that most objects will generally burn completely during their return.
They added that since a large part of the land is covered with water and large uninhabited parts, the risk to individuals is much lower than the daily risks such as driving a car.
Astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge in the United States told the German news agency (dpa) earlier this week that it would be “at worst like a small plane crashing but stretching in a line of more than hundreds.” Kilometers “.
He said it was not certain how many shrapnel remained after the return, but “was sufficient to cause damage.”