By Morgan McFall-Johnsen

China’s 21-ton Long March 5b rocket is orbiting the planet in a path that could lead to the massive vehicle crashing back to Earth within the next few days, experts warn.

The core stage launched Thursday to deliver the first modular of the nation’s new space station, but instead of returning to a pre-determined post in the ocean, it is predicted to make an uncontrolled reentry – and possibly in an inhabited area.

An enormous rocket body is shooting around the planet out of control, and it could fall back to Earth within the next few days.
China’s 21-ton Long March 5b core stage rocket is orbiting the planet in a path that could lead to the massive vehicle crashing back to Earth within the next few days, experts warns. Pictured is the rocket when it launched last week

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer who tracks objects orbiting Earth, told SpaceNews that the Long March 5b’s path takes it ‘a little farther north than New York, Madrid and Beijing and as far south as southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand,’ and it could could land anywhere in this range. 

When the rocket stage falls to Earth, most of it could burn up in the atmosphere, but large pieces could survive that could rain down on populated areas – as the range is nearly 80 percent of the globe.

China previously launched Long March 5b in May 2020 (pictured) to test the vehicle in preparation of sending people to the moon, but this mission also ended with an uncontrolled reentry.

However, there are far more bodies of water along the reentry path than there is land, making it a higher probability that debris from Long March 5b will splashdown somewhere.

The core stage of the Long March 5B rocket was sent into space on May 5 and fell to Earth a few days later, just off the coast of West Africa. Its descent was confirmed by the 18th Space Control Squadron, a unit of the US Air Force that tracks space debris in Earth’s orbit

Satellite trackers have also detected the 100-foot-long, 16-foot-wide Long March 5B core stage, now designated the name ‘2021-035B’, travelling at more than four miles per second.  

China launched Long March 5B at 11:23 am local time on Thursday to deliver the first stage of its upcoming space station.

100 Foot Tall Rocket Booster From China’s Space Launch Could Fall Back To Earth!

China aims to become a major space power by 2030 to keep up with rivals, including the US, Russia and the European Space Agency, and create the most advanced space station orbiting Earth.

However, the return of the rocket could put an end to China’s celebration if the vehicle lands in an inhabited area.

Space debris trackers observed it moving slowly and unpredictably to Earth over the past few days, and  reentry of the vehicle would be one of the largest uncontrolled descents on record.

This uncontrolled descent left trackers guessing exactly where it would eventually land – with speculation it could be in the ocean or on land in Africa, US or Australia.

Before it splashed down in the waters off the west coast of Mauritania the rocket core flew over Los Angeles and New York City.

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