Thu, 24 Jun 2021

WASHINGTON D.C.: Sections of a Chinese rocket are expected to reenter Earth's atmosphere this month.

While the sections are being tracked by the United States, officials said the rocket parts are traveling at 18,000 miles per hour.

As of now, officials said they do not know where the remains of the sections will come down.

The location where the rocket debris will impact Earth will be known only within hours of its reentry, the U.S. Space Command, a branch of the U.S. military, said in a statement.

Based upon the rocket's current orbit, the debris could fall as far north as New York, Madrid, or Beijing, and as far south as southern Chile or Wellington, New Zealand, Reuters reported.

While the majority of the rocket could burn up in the Earth's atmosphere, debris could reach Earth.

Since the majority of the Earth's surface is ocean or uninhabited land, experts say it is unlikely that the debris could strike a city.

Of note, debris from a Chinese rocket earlier landed on buildings in two villages in Ivory Coast.

Harvard-based astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell told Space News that China's allowing this debris to reenter the atmosphere uncontrolled was "unacceptable."

"Since 1990, nothing over 10 tons has been deliberately left in orbit to reenter uncontrolled," he said.

The core of the rocket is believed to weigh some 21 tons.

The Long March 5B rocket launched into space the first component of China's space station, which China hopes to complete by 2022.

The launch was one of 11 planned missions to build the station.

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