What has happened?
- Scientists say there’s an outside chance that debris from a massive, spent Chinese booster rocket will not entirely burn up on reentering Earth’s atmosphere and could rain down on populated areas in the coming days.
- And it’s not the first time Chinese space junk has raised public safety concerns.
What is this debris?
- China delivered a second module to its manned but still under construction Tiangong space station over the weekend.
- But, while the mission was considered a success and smaller parts of the cargo spacecraft have already largely burned up in the atmosphere,
- A 25-ton booster rocket is currently in a decaying, uncontrolled orbit, and scientists expect it to fall back to Earth in a matter of days.
- Part of a Long March 5B rocket China launched on July 24 will make an uncontrolled reentry around July 31.
Where will it fall?
- The Aerospace Corporation, which tracks space junk through its Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies,
- Tweeted its estimate that the rocket body would reenter Earth’s atmosphere on or about July 31 and included a chart showing the used rocket’s orbital path.
- The possible debris field includes much of the US, as well as Africa, Australia, Brazil, India and Southeast Asia, according to Aerospace’s predictions.
- “Due to the uncontrolled nature of its descent, there is a non-zero probability of the surviving debris landing in a populated area — over 88% of the world’s population lives under the reentry’s potential debris footprint,” the Aerospace Corp. statement reads.
- “A reentry of this size will not burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, and the general rule of thumb is that 20%–40%of the mass of a large object will reach the ground, though it depends on the design of the object.”
What china is saying?
- Concern over the re-entry and the impact it could have is being dismissed by China, however,
- With state-backed media saying the warnings are just “sour grapes” from people resentful of the country’s development as a space power.
- There are at least two other instances of spent Chinese rockets falling back to Earth in uncontrolled reentries.
- In May 2020, an 18-metric-ton core stage of another Chinese rocket reentered the atmosphere from orbit in an uncontrolled manner after being used to launch an unmanned experimental crew capsule.
- Debris from the rocket body, including a 12-meter-long pipe, struck two villages in the Ivory Coast, causing damage to several buildings.
- One year later, another similar piece of rocket debris made an uncontrolled reentry after being used to launch another part of the Tiangong space station into low Earth orbit.
- This time, the debris crashed into the Indian Ocean.
- Researchers said the two rocket stages were the heaviest objects to reenter in an uncontrolled manner since the Soviet Union’s Salyut-7 space station in 1991.
Q) Which type of fuel is used by GSLV in its operations?
- Only solid fuel
- Only liquid fuel
- Liquid in first stage and solid in second stage
- Solid in first stage and liquid in second stage