New Delhi : The China had launched the Long March-5B rocket into space on 5 May from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the Hainan province in South China.
It was designed to carry the large payloads into the lower Earth orbit but it failed during its test and not it has become one of the biggest debris returning to the Earth surface. The latest prototype was more than 50 metres long and weighed 849 tonnes when it took off.
Experts suggest that this may have been the most massive object to make an uncontrolled re-entry since Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told The Independent that: “Even in space there’s a thin bit of atmosphere left. Objects in low orbit travel at 18000 mph, so even a tiny bit of air makes a huge headwind. This causes ‘orbital decay’ – the satellite’s orbit gets lower and lower over time, into the denser atmosphere where the headwind is even bigger. the 39-tonne Salyut-7 in 1991.
“Eventually it gets to the point where the heating from friction melts the metal and causes the object to break up and lose enough speed to crash towards Earth. For smaller satellites, they melt entirely and nothing reaches the ground.”
Interestingly, the crashes debris landed just 13 minutes away from the New York City which has a population of around nine million people.
According to other local reports, debris also fell in N’guinou, where a 50kg piece of the spacecraft pierced the roof of a family home. There have been no reported casualties.
“For the Chinese to let this rocket come down due to natural orbital decay is seen as irresponsible by most people in the space industry”, said McDowell.