A failed rocket, launched from China, eventually landed in the Atlantic Ocean with reports of fallen debris destroying property: A Chinese rocket has crashed down to Earth, missing New York by minutes.
The Long March-5B rocket, an unmanned prototype craft launched into space on 5 May, fell down and came around 13 minutes of hitting the city. CNN reported that the rocket launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the Hainan province in South China. The rocket experienced a mysterious malfunction on its first flight, but nevertheless returned to China as planned.
The spacecraft, which had been in development for 10 years with the intention to carry large payloads into low-Earth orbit, was over 50 meters long and weighed 849 tons when it took off. Usually when a rocket launches, the first stage provides the majority of the thrust to get the craft into orbital velocity before dropping into the ocean. A second stage then activates, pushing the rocket’s payload into orbit. However, the rocket had difficulty breaking out of the Earth's atmosphere.
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.
"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.”
McDowell tweeted that it was the “most massive object to make an uncontrolled re-entry since the 39-tonne Salyut-7 in 1991”. Tracking objects travelling at such high speed is challenging, and during the descent of the rocket it was predicted that the potential re-entry areas were near Australia, the US, and Africa.
The difference between the craft crashing into its final destination and the city of New York – which has a population of just under nine million people – was only 13 minutes. The craft was eventually confirmed by the US Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron to have landed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Possible debris has been seen around the Cote d’Ivoire, with reports of a 12-meter long object crashing into the village of Mahounou – directly underneath the rocket’s re-entry track, but 2100km from its re-entry location. 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. This is not the first instance where a Chinese rocket launch has gone wrong; according to the Xinhua News Agency – a state-run press agency in China – the Long March 3B rocket which was launched on 9 March had a malfunction in its third stage.
Debris fell over China, and people in Guam posted videos of wreckage shooting through the sky. Guam’s government released a statement that said it had “identified that the object was likely connected to a scheduled satellite test launch from China.”
The Chinese rocket, which was launched recently has crashed down to Earth and missed the Coronavirus affected New York City by minutes, thus saving a population of just under nine million. The debris of the rocket, Long March 5B (CZ–5B), measuring at 17.8 tonnes, was spotted by the US Air Force's 18th Space Control Squadron.
The prototype craft which was launched into space on May 5, came around the 13 minutes of hitting the city which is currently facing the worse nightmare due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It should be noted that the spacecraft, which has been in development for 10 years, measured over 50 meters long and weighed 849 tons when it took off.
Launched on May 5 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the Hainan province, located in the southern part of China, the rocket initially showed a mysterious malfunction during its first flight. After the launch of any rocket, in the first stage the thrust push the craft into the orbital velocity and then in the second stage the rocket's payload is pushed into orbit. But in case of the Chinese rocket, it faced difficulty in breaking out of the earth's atmosphere.
He also mentioned that eventually, the spacecraft gets to the point where the heating from friction melts the metal, causing the object to break up and slow down to crash on earth. For smaller satellites, they melt entirely and nothing reaches the ground. In his tweet, the astronomer mentioned that this was the "most massive object to make an uncontrolled re-entry since the 39-tonne Salyut-7 in 1991".
While it was predicted that the potential re-entry areas were near Australia, the U.S. and Africa, a twitter user asked McDowell, "by about how many minutes did it miss plopping onto NYC?" and the answer was only "13 minutes."
The possible debris of the rocket has been found near Cote d'Ivoire in West Africa, where reports revealed that 12-meter long object had crashed into the village of Mahounou. According to other reports, the debris also dropped in the Côte d'Ivoire's N'guinou region where a 50-kg piece of the spacecraft fell on the roof of a house but no casualty was reported.
China being irresponsible? As per McDowell, most of the people in the space industry think that it is "irresponsible" behavior of China to let the rocket come down due to the natural orbital decay.
Earlier, the Long March 3B rocket which was launched in March also had a malfunction in its third stage, reported Xinhua News Agency. After the incident, the rocket debris fell over China and the Guam residents captured the video featuring the wreckage falling from the sky. Later in a statement, Guam government said that it had "identified that the object was likely connected to a scheduled satellite test launch from China."
The gendarmerie begins an investigation into the mysterious metallic object fallen from the sky in Mahounou. The gendarmerie opened an investigation this Tuesday, May 12, following the unidentified metal object ten meters long fell on Monday, May 11, 2020, in Mahounou, a village in the sub-prefecture of N'Zécrézessou, in the N'Zi region.
Following the fall of the unknown metal object, which fell from the sky on Monday May 11 in Mahounou, a village in the department of Bocanda, in the center of Côte d'Ivoire, the gendarmerie was deported on Tuesday May 12 to places.
Indeed, she is there to learn more about the origin and components of this tubular metal rod, ten meters long. She stayed in a cheese maker on the outskirts of the village, after a deafening noise, around 4 p.m. Concordant sources indicate that the populations of several other departments of central Côte d'Ivoire heard the noise.
In particular those of Bouaké, Tiébissou, Dimbokro, Bongouanou etc. “In N'Guinou, a large metal tube of about 50 kg pierced the roof of a family. Fortunately there were no casualties. But it could have been worse. His house must be rehabilitated. So the state must find the source of this debris, ”said a witness.
According to some sources, with regard to the radius of fall and the nature of the devices dropped from the sky, it could be debris from a space station. But the investigation opened by the gendarmerie, will be able to confirm or refute this hypothesis and will situate us on the true nature of the mysterious object. For now, his presence in Mahounou is making headlines and everyone is going with his interpretation.
Recall that in the night of Tuesday, January 30 to Wednesday, January 31, 2018 an object, later identified as a satellite, had fallen within the cables of Djorofa, a village located 10 km from the sub-prefecture of Djibrosso, in the department of Kani , in the north of Ivory Coast. Peasants had seen him hanging on a tree on the road to their fields before notifying the gendarmerie.