Out-of-control Chinese rocket expected to crash into Earth this weekend

Out-of-control Chinese rocket expected to crash into Earth this weekend

A Chinese rocket will likely fall to Earth on Saturday, the US Defence Department has said, but it's still impossible to know where it will land due to it traveling at 18,000 miles per hour.

A 21-tonne "out of control" Chinese rocket is expected to land on Earth on Saturday, the US defence department has said.

The rocket launched on Wednesday and successfully managed to deliver the core module of China's space station.

While the rocket will explode once it falls out of orbit, there are concerns the Long March 5B's debris could fall and potentially land on an inhabited area, Space News reports.

But according to experts, it is impossible to know where exactly it will land as its speed makes it too unpredictable.

US Department of Defense Spokesperson Mike Howard said: “US Space Command is aware of and tracking the location of the Chinese Long March 5B in space".

But the statement adds: "Its exact entry point into the Earth’s atmosphere cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its reentry, which is expected around May 8.”

“Until then, the 18th Space Control Squadron will be offering daily updates to the rocket body’s location on www.space-track.org beginning May 4.

"We will provide additional information as it becomes available,” the statement read.

An expert has said it is not something over which to lose sleep as it will likely land in the ocean.

The rocket grabbed international headlines as concerns were raised that it might cause damage if it lands in populated areas of the world.

But Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University, told CNN that the debris is most likely to fall in the ocean as that's what makes up most of Earth.

"I don't think people should take precautions. The risk that there will be some damage or that it would hit someone is pretty small -- not negligible, it could happen -- but the risk that it will hit you is incredibly tiny.

"And so I would not lose one second of sleep over this on a personal threat basis," he said, before adding: "There are much bigger things to worry about."

Mr. McDowell also explained that due to the rocket traveling about 18,000 miles an hour, it is impossible to know exactly where it will land on Earth, but there could be at least an estimate in the few hours ahead of the potential collision.

China aims to complete its space station by the end of 2022 after further modules are launched, according to local media.

Tiangong Space Station will orbit Earth at an altitude of 211 to 280 miles once complete.
Out-of-control Chinese rocket expected to crash into Earth this weekend
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