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Everything you need to know about the Chinese missile that went out of control

China has revealed it is closely monitoring an errant missile re-entering the atmosphere by the end of next week, and Beijing’s government said last Wednesday that debris from the massive missile would return to Earth in an uncontrolled re-entry. Little danger to anyone on Earth.

A Long March 5B rocket blasted off last Sunday to deliver a laboratory unit to a new Chinese space station being built into orbit.

It is the third flight of China’s most powerful missile, which was first launched in 2020.

During its first two flights, the rocket’s main stage—which is 100 feet (30 meters) long and weighs 22 tons (about 48,500 pounds)—has already reached low orbit.

According to US experts, once atmospheric friction pulls the Earth down it is expected to return towards the Earth.

The Sun reports that the missile body will disintegrate as it sinks into the atmosphere.

Independent researchers in the United States said it was large enough for many fragments to survive the fire returning to rain debris in an area about 2,000 km long and about 70 km wide.

It is impossible to determine in advance the potential location of the landfill.

In the coming days experts will be able to narrow down the possible area of ​​impact near re-entry.

According to Aerospace Corp, a government-funded non-profit think tank near Los Angeles, the latest available observational data projects that the re-entry will occur on Sunday, plus or minus 16 hours, at 01:24 a.m. UK time.

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The overall risk to people and property on Earth is very low, astronaut Ted Muelhaupt told reporters.

That’s because 75 percent of the Earth’s surface is water, desert, or forest.

However, there is a possibility that some part of the missile will fall in a populated area.

Another Chinese version of the Long March 5B landed in Ivory Coast in May 2020, damaging several buildings. Muhlhaupt said there were no injuries.

In contrast, he said, the United States and other spacefaring nations typically spend extra to design their rockets to avoid large, uncontrolled re-entries.

This inevitability has often been seen since large parts of NASA’s Skylab space station fell from orbit in 1979 and landed in Australia.

In general, the odds of someone being injured or killed by falling missile fragments this weekend are between one in 1,000 and one in 230.

This is higher than the internationally accepted risk of injury, which is one in ten thousand, he told reporters.

But on the order of six chances in 10 trillion, the risk to any individual is extremely low. By comparison, lightning strikes are about 80,000 times more likely, he said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the possibility of the debris causing damage to aircraft or people and property on the ground was very low. He said most of the missile’s components would be destroyed upon return.

Last year, NASA and others accused China of being opaque, as the Beijing government remained silent on the estimated debris path or re-entry window for the Long March rocket’s last flight in May 2021.

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The wreckage of the plane landed unharmed in the Indian Ocean.

Hours after Zhao spoke on Wednesday, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) gave the approximate location of its latest rocket in a rare public statement.

As of 4:00 pm (0800 GMT), the agency said the rocket was orbiting the Earth in an elliptical orbit with an altitude of 263.2 kilometers and an altitude of 176.6 kilometers at its closest point.

CMSA did not provide estimated re-entry details on Wednesday.