U.S. Military Doesn’t Know Where Chinese Space Debris Might Land

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U.S. Military Doesn’t Know Where Chinese Space Debris Might Land
A Long March 5B rocket, carrying China’s Tianhe space station core module, lifts off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China’s Hainan province on April 29, 2021.
A Long March 5B rocket, carrying China’s Tianhe space station core module, lifts off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China’s Hainan province on April 29, 2021.
Photo: STR/AFP (Getty Images)

The U.S. military is tracking an enormous piece of Chinese space debris which is expected to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere sometime around May 8, according to a press release from U.S. Space Command. But as the Pentagon points out, no one knows quite where it will land yet.

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The space debris in question is formally known as a Long March 5B, the rocket that launched part of China’s Tianhe Space Station into orbit on April 28. As Space News notes, the reentry of this rocket is one of the largest uncontrolled entries in history and there are concerns it could land in an area inhabited by humans.

“U.S. Space Command is aware of and tracking the location of the Chinese Long March 5B in space, but its exact entry point into the Earth’s atmosphere cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its reentry, which is expected around May 8,” Space Command said in a statement. “Until then, the 18th Space Control Squadron will be offering daily updates to the rocket body’s location on Space-track.org beginning May 4.”

Space News explains that it’s highly unlikely space debris of this kind will crush someone here on Earth, but it’s still a possibility: