The Chinese rocket that would fall uncontrollably on Earth will burn mainly in re-entry, posing little threat to people and property on the ground, reassured the Chinese government on Friday.
Speaking in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China was closely following the rocket’s re-entry into the atmosphere, Reuters reported.
“The likelihood of this process causing damage on the ground is extremely low,” he said.
China is paying “great attention to re-entering the top stage of the rocket into the atmosphere,” he added.
The section of the rocket, which was launched on April 29 from China, is expected to return to Earth on Saturday. It could strike a populated area, experts warn.
All you need to know: Chinese rocket returns to Earth
Wang said Chinese authorities would release further information on the rocket “in due course.” The Chinese space agency has yet to say whether the main stage of the massive Long March 5B rocket is under control or will descend uncontrollably.
US officials are also monitoring the trajectory of the rocket. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is “aware and he knows the Space Command is following, literally hunting down this rocket debris,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
Where will the Chinese rocket land?
The place where it will strike “can only be located hours after re-entry,” the Pentagon said in a statement this week.
“We don’t have a plan to bring down the rocket,” Austin said this week. “We hope he lands in a place where he doesn’t harm anyone … hopefully in the ocean.”
China’s Global Times said rocket debris would likely fall into international waters.
According to Space.com, there is a chance that the nearly 23-ton piece of space debris will shatter in the atmosphere, with the remaining pieces reaching uninhabited areas, as 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with ocean. .
Usually, the rejected rocket stages re-enter the atmosphere shortly after take-off, normally over water, and do not go into orbit.
The Long March 5B rocket carrying the core module of China’s Tianhe space station took off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China’s Hainan Province on April 29. Known as the Heavenly Harmony, the space station will be the first in China to accommodate long-term astronauts.
China is planning 10 more launches to put additional parts of the space station into orbit.
Contribute: The Associated Press