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Huge 21-ton piece of Chinese rocket could land ANYWHERE as it falls to earth

A HUGE Chinese rocket part is falling back to Earth in an uncontrolled decent – and scientists have warned that it could land anywhere.

Debris from the 21-ton piece – which is the size of a 10-storey building – is expected to break the atmosphere soon, according to aerospace experts who are scrambling to determine its path back home.


Long March-5B Y4 rocket carrying China’s lab module Mengtian as it launched on MondayCredit: Getty

It has prompted pleas for further information from the Chinese authorities after the rocket was launched from Tiangong Space Station on Monday.

Gregory Henning, Project Leader at The Aerospace Corporation’s Centre for Orbital Debris and Reentry Studies (CORDS) suggested that there is still too much uncertainty in the data and models to make a prediction.

“As the rocket body’s altitude decreases and the re-entry approaches, the window will shrink, and will begin to reveal locations that will not be the landing site,” Henning told the Daily Mail.  

“But the exact location will not be known until it actually enters.”

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The latest rocket malfunction mirrors a crash in July after space debris from a previous Chinese launch plummeted in the Indian Ocean near Malaysia.

At the time experts failed to disclose its exact location following fears that it could have hit a populated town or village.

But while major cities again appear to be safe from the falling debris on this occasion, Henning suggested that “88 percent of the world’s population does live within those at-risk latitude bounds” of the booster’s expected landing area.

However, the odds of an individual being affected are said to be about six in 10 trillion.  

The 20-ton core stage was jettisoned during a mission to deliver a new module to China’s space station.

It’s the fourth time that the country’s space agency has permitted a potentially deadly uncontrolled descent in as many years.

The 23-ton Long March 5B rocket which carried the Wentian laboratory module took off from Hainan Island.

But, like it processors, the rocket began to orbit the Earth after its separation from the station in an irregular trajectory as it slowly lost altitude.

Experts have since been unable to make any predictions about where it will re-enter the atmosphere or fall back to the ground nearly impossible.

It could end up breaking apart upon entry, with only smaller pieces of debris reaching Earth.

China’s enormous Long March 5B rocket, however, is not capable of controlled reentry , experts say, given that the process requires the booster to restart its engines following the completion of its primary mission.

It’s thought that later models being developed by China’s National Space Agency will be capable of controlled reentries.

But until then, Beijing will continue to allow rocket parts the size of three firetrucks stacked end-to-end to drift back to Earth.


Prior to July’s incident, a 21-ton piece of a Long March 5b crash-landed in the Indian Ocean.

At roughly 30 metres (100ft) long, the booster stage was among the biggest pieces of manmade debris ever to fall from space.

Scientists had initially feared the hunk of junk was destined for an explosive reentry over cities including New York and Madrid.

In September 2020, a Chinese rocket booster exploded after landing on a town in the country’s Shaanxi province.

And in May that year, another Long March 5B rocket slammed through the atmosphere, partially burning up on its descent.

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Fortunately, debris from the disintegrating booster largely fell into the Atlantic Ocean – though some landed in West Africa.

According to the South China Morning Post, pieces of metal showered inhabited villages in the Ivory Coast, though no injuries were reported.

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