The Chinese rocket, which reportedly falls uncontrollably to the earth, will largely burn on re-entry and pose little risk to local people or property, the Chinese government assured the world on Friday.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in Beijing that China is closely monitoring the missile re-entry into the atmosphere. Reuters reported.
“The likelihood that this process will cause damage to the ground is extremely slim,” he said.
China is paying “close attention to the re-entry of the rocket’s upper stage into the atmosphere,” he added.
The segment of the rocket, which was launched from China on April 29, is expected to fall back to Earth sometime on Saturday. It could hit an inhabited area, experts warn.
Everything you need to know: Chinese rocket hurtles back to earth
Wang said the Chinese authorities would release more information about the missile “in good time”. China’s space agency has yet to say whether the main stage of the giant Long March 5B rocket will be controlled or if it will spiral out of control.
US officials are also monitoring the missile’s trajectory. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is “aware and knows that space command is literally tracking these missile debris,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
Where should the Chinese missile land?
Where it will hit “can only be determined within hours of its reentry,” the Pentagon said in a statement earlier this week.
“We have no plans to launch the missile,” Austin said this week. “We hope it ends up in a place where it won’t harm anyone … hopefully in the ocean.”
China’s Global Times said the rocket’s debris is likely to fall into international waters.
According to Space.comThere is a likelihood that the nearly 23-ton piece of space debris will break high in the atmosphere and hit any remaining parts of uninhabited areas, as 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with ocean.
Typically, discarded rocket stages re-enter the atmosphere shortly after take-off, usually over water, and do not enter orbit.
The Long March 5B rocket with the core module of the Chinese Tianhe space station was lifted on April 29 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the southern Chinese province of Hainan. The space station known as Heavenly Harmony will be China’s first to house astronauts over the long term.
China is planning 10 more launches to put additional pieces of the space station into orbit.
Contributor: The Associated Press