(Read the full article on Time.com)
If you’re not at least a little worried about the core stage of China’s Long March 5B rocket now flying—tumbling, really—through low Earth orbit, you’re not paying enough attention, Time magazine reported.
The giant chunk of space junk measures 30 m (98 ft) long and 5 m (16.5 ft) wide and weighs 21 metric tons. It’s traveling on an elliptical path around the Earth measuring roughly 370 km (230 mi) high by 170 km (105 mi) low, and that orbit is decaying fast.
According to Time, at the current rate, the rocket stage should reenter the atmosphere sometime on May 8—unless it’s May 7 or maybe May 9—and potentially scatter debris across the Pacific Ocean—unless it’s the Atlantic Ocean or Europe or Russia or Africa or somewhere in midtown Manhattan.
The point is, the only two things we know for certain are A: that the Long March 5B core stage is definitely coming down soon, and B: there’s absolutely no reason China should have gotten itself—and the world—in this position in the first place.
“China is an outlier in the way countries have been disposing of rocket parts for 30 years,” says astronomer Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “They just decided, ‘Hey, the Earth is big. This probably won’t affect anyone.”