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China has another uncontrollable, falling missile that re-enters Earth’s atmosphere – Technology News, Firstpost

This week, the Chinese space program successfully launched the final piece of their own version of the Tiangong space station. The 23-ton module called Mengtian will provide pressurized volume for science experiments and is the last major living space to be added to the Tiangong space station.

China has another uncontrollable, falling missile that re-enters Earth's atmosphere

China has built its modular space station, which is similar in form and function to the International Space Station, but smaller, on time and with very few problems. China was forced to build their own space station after the US government banned NASA from working with their Chinese counterparts in 2011.

To launch Tiangong’s main modules, China had to use a modified version of its powerful Long March 5B missile. And as part of the overall mission profile, the vehicle’s massive core is returning to Earth’s atmosphere in an uncontrollable way.

During a normal launch, a rocket’s large first stage will provide most of its thrust for the first few minutes of launch and then decay before reaching orbital speed and falling harmlessly back into an ocean.

A smaller second stage then takes over and pushes the rocket’s payload into orbit. However, the modified version of the Long March 5B does not have an upper stage. Rather, it consists of a core stage with four strap-on boosters.

This is not the first time that a large part of a Chinese space rocket has fallen back to Earth in an uncontrollable manner. In July this year, a Chinese rocket fell back to Earth over the Indian Ocean on Saturday. Back in the days, the entire main core stage of the rocket that fell back to Earth weighed 22.5 tons.

While uncontrolled reentry of certain components of a rocket is not exactly new, and very common, the upper stages of rockets and other spent space hardware are usually removed by aiming at the remote Point Nemo, in the Pacific Ocean. That will not happen in this case.

On the three previous launches by the Chinese space agency where they have a similar missile, in 2020, 2021 and 2022, damaged large chunks of debris in villages in the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, fell in the Indian Ocean and landed near villages in Borneo respectively. Fortunately, no one has been injured by this falling debris yet.

China has largely refused to recognize the problem caused by this missile. The commentator on Monday’s launch by China Central Television, which is owned by the Chinese state, went so far as to say that the nuclear phase would completely burn up in Earth’s atmosphere upon reentry. However, engineers and other experts from other space agencies believe that certainly won’t be the case.



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