Last week, the alarm went off: a gigantic Chinese rocket was about to enter the atmosphere without any control. In the last hours, it finally happened, the Long March 5B returned to Earth, falling uncontrollably into the Indian Ocean . It is one of the largest space debris that has fallen out of control in the history of mankind.
The long March 5B was about 30 meters high and weighed just over 20 tons. A few days ago completed its mission to orbit the first module of the Chinese space station , the Tianhe. The rocket’s center stage failed to return once it left the orbiting station, so it ended up orbiting Earth until it re-entered the atmosphere.
Close to the Maldives and reckless
In recent days, astronomers, trackers and amateurs have been monitoring the trajectory of the rocket to determine when and where it could fall back to Earth. The rocket finally returns to the atmosphere over the Arabian Peninsula , yes, it hasn’t landed.
Contact with the Earth’s surface later occurred at coordinates 72.47 degrees east longitude and 2.65 degrees north latitude. These coordinates correspond to Indian Ocean, near the Maldives . Unless otherwise noted, the rocket did not cause any human damage, it simply ended up submerged in water.
China’s Manned Space Engineering Bureau said the “vast majority” of the debris burned when it entered the atmosphere . The confirmed re-entry thus puts an end to the days of surveillance by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Although there was no damage, many experts, especially from the United States, consider this act reckless.
Measuring 33 meters high, 5 meters wide and weighing over 20 tons, the central stage of Long March 5B captivated all eyes. Its uncontrollable reentry has raised concerns, being the sixth largest object to reenter the atmosphere in an uncontrolled manner .
Usually, the stages of rockets returning to Earth do so in a controlled manner. For this, they have an extra boost that allows technicians to decide when to re-enter the atmosphere , thus controlling that it falls in the middle of the ocean and away from human beings. This was not the case with the Long March 5B, although luckily the result was the same.