Fasten your seatbelts, as it’s likely going to be a bumpy ride this Sunday! Yes, you heard it right. It has been reported that an enormous booster is going to land on Earth this Sunday in an uncontrolled manner. The booster under consideration was attached to the Long March 5B rocket that was launched by China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) on July 24th, 2022. This project aimed to incorporate a new module into orbit in order to foster the growth of “The Tiangong space station.” However, this booster has a significant chance to pull through the atmosphere and land anywhere on Earth.
In addition to this, the booster is 53.6 meters long and weighs around 23 metric tonnes. Despite the high probability of its crashing on Earth, there is a very low likelihood of it causing any major damage, but still, we don’t know the location of its landing, so there is a certain wave of fear among the experts regarding the safety of people. As of now, the only information obtained by the researchers is that the observatory would fall back to Earth on July 31st, 2022, and “is likely to fall beneath the yellow and blue swirling lines” as shown in the map below:
According to the recent press release of Aerospace Corporation, “Due to the uncontrolled nature of its descent, there is a non-zero probability of the surviving debris landing in a populated area – over 88 percent of the world’s population lives under the re-entry’s potential debris footprint. “A re-entry of this size will not burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, and the general rule of thumb is that 20-40 percent of the mass of a large object will reach the ground, though it depends on the design of the object.”
However, it’s certainly not going to be the first incident of its kind because, if you may recall, a rocket booster of a similar kind happened to land in the Indian Ocean without causing any damage. Similarly, another rocket made its entry into Earth in 2020 and landed near Africa’s Ivory Coast, but fortunately, it hadn’t created any havoc. On the other hand, about 4–6 metric tons of components of this Long March 5Bs booster have been expected to survive the atmosphere and re-enter the Earth.
Talking about the killing probability, an analyst from the Aerospace Corporation said, “The risk posed to any single individual is on the order of six chances per 10 trillion for any one person.” With that in mind, you should also be aware of the fact that around 75% of the Earth is composed of water, jungle, or desert, so there is a very rare chance that the booster lands in a populated area.