Again, here we are.
On July 24, a new module of China’s Tiangong space station was successfully launched into orbit.
Although it is an outstanding accomplishment, over the next few days, the international community is likely to concentrate on a drawback of the launch.
This is due to the fact that the Long March 5B rocket’s core stage, which launched the Wentian module into orbit, has remained there and will make an unplanned re-entry over an unidentified area.
Another uncontrolled Long March 5B re-entry
The core stage of a Long March 5B reentered Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean in May of last year, almost exactly as it had in May of the previous year. In the end, nobody was hurt, but the world community criticized China’s space program for its lack of preparation and security.
The criticism has some merit.
China launched a test crew capsule on a Long March 5B on May 5, 2020. On May 11, the main launch stage ended up crashing into a settlement in the Ivory Coast, or Côte d’Ivoire. It had just before its uncontrolled re-entry flown directly over New York City.
With China’s most recent launch of its space station module, the entire world now faces the same situation. The Long March 5B’s 21-ton core stage is currently orbiting the planet and plunging gradually to an uncontrolled re-entry. Although the precise timing and position of the item’s re-entry are presently unknown, specialists are monitoring the object, which is expected to do so in about a week.
“Unacceptable” is the uncontrolled re-entry of the 21-ton core stage.
On Sunday, June 24, at 2:22 Beijing time, the Long March 5B rocket launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the Chinese island of Hainan. 13 hours after launch, the 22-ton Wentian experiment that was housed atop the rocket reached the orbital station. The first astronauts to witness a docking at the Tiangong station were the three astronauts who are presently residing in the main module of the Tiangong space station: Chen Dong, Liu Yang, and Cai Xuzh.
The countdown to the Long March 5B core stage’s uncontrolled reentry has started. Although the likelihood of it passing over a densely populated area is extremely remote, it is nonetheless possible.