On Monday, October 31, China sent the Long March 5B Yao-4 rocket into space. The rocket will provide the Mengtian experimental module—the third and final module for the Chinese space station. 

The rocket will return to Earth, but without any clear destination. The Chinese refused to provide the information needed to predict the crash point correctly, and international experts are worried the wreckage might pose a danger to people on Earth. 

Experts can only predict that an amount of debris that comprises a 10-story building will fall to Earth. This big chunk of debris might burn up partially in the air, but as it is large, some space junk will fall to Earth. 

According to experts, about 20–40% of the 24-ton rocket booster will land on Earth. In addition, experts say that 88% of the world’s population lives in possibly dangerous areas, even though the chance of someone getting hurt is only 6 in 10 trillion.

It is the fourth time that pieces of a Chinese rocket have put people and property on Earth in danger. The previous three times happened in the past two years. 

The most recent case occurred in early July when pieces of Chinese rockets fell in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the seas of the Philippines.

Gregory Henning is in charge of the Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies (CORDS). He told the Daily Mail that the data and models still contain many uncertainties, so the exact location of contact is still hard to predict:

“As the rocket body’s altitude decreases and the reentry approaches, the window will shrink, and will begin to reveal locations that will not be the landing site.”

“But the exact location will not be known until it actually enters.”

Ted Muelhaupt is a reentry and debris expert with the Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies (CORDS). He told Fox News:

“How is it built? What is the structure like? What is it made of? How is it distributed within the vehicle? All of this is hard data that the Chinese can provide to the world for others to improve their predictions.”

“Without this data, it would be really difficult for us to improve our models.”
According to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, this situation is no different than in July, when China refused to share information about the path of debris trajectory. However, he said that all countries should share this kind of information, as it will help identify dangerous debris and contribute to the safety of people on Earth.

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