China has almost everyone in the world holding their breath as they wait for the Long March 5B rocket to exit from its artificial orbit and finally crash down to Earth. Experts want to know where the rocket will land and if it will do any damage to human life. China’s own media has been trying to downplay the fear that the rocket will land somewhere inhabited and are saying that it will crash in international waters.
It’s a fact that the current orbit of the rocket makes it go over major cities like New York and Beijing so while the chances of the rocket falling in an inhabited area are astronomically low. It may still happen, not to mention the damage to the environment the burning pieces of the rocket will cause where ever it lands. The US already has a plan of action in place but it is not what you would expect.
The US plan of action is simple. They want to wait and see what happens, I guess the US is planning to criticize China in case something bad does happen. According to Lloyd Austin, the US Defense Secretary, “We don’t have a plan to shoot down Chinese rocket. We hope it lands somewhere where it doesn’t harm anyone. Hopefully in the ocean, or someplace like that”.
The Defense Secretary also didn’t hold back while criticizing China for not putting in a mechanism for a controlled re-entry. He said that there was a need to “make sure that we take those kinds of things into consideration as we plan and conduct operations”. Almost all modern-day rockets are able to adjust their re-entry to the safe international waters.
Astronomer Jonathan McDowell believes that “China decided they would rather use a simpler design and hope that they get lucky with the stage re-entering uncontrolled but not hurting anyone”.
Luck shouldn’t be such a big factor in critical operations like these. It was an oversight on China’s part to not implement controlled re-entry for the Long March 5B. To think they plan to send 11 more missions like these for their new space station.
Guess we’ll see tomorrow if hoping for something enough makes it happen or not.