It certainly didn’t require an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, and theologian by the name of Sir Isaac Newton to enlighten anyone on things going up coming back down, but nonetheless, he’s credited with the revolutionary discovery. Newton’s theories are once again being put to the test. The Chinese had a bit of a malfunction with a 21-ton rocket they sent up which has resulted in the out-of-control vessel now plummeting towards our heavily populated planet at breakneck speed. The bigger problem? They have no earthly idea where it’s going to hit.
Only a few days ago the Chinese were giggling like young school girls at the successful launch of an additional module to the space station they’re constructing to one day control the world with, but their squeals of delight have been suddenly silenced.
The 100 ft long, 16 ft wide 21-ton rocket didn’t fizzle out like it was supposed to, and this is detrimental to it hitting its target when it lands. Instead, its booster rockets, not being ready to give up the ghost, propelled it further into space where it is now comfortably orbiting a path around the earth. But not for much longer.
It’s maintaining a current speed of 5 miles per second which has it lapping the earth once every 90 minutes, and just as Newton said it would, the earth’s gravitational pull draws it closer with each orbit. Its intense speed makes it beyond even taking a shot at when it will hit the earth’s atmosphere, becoming a potential WMD. A differential of hundreds of miles on this planet will be determined in mere seconds by what happens up there.
Since the earth has more water than land, odds are the rocket will splash down in a body of water, just not the intended one. But, the experts say to not place your money on that bet. There is also a great risk that it could crash into any densely inhabited areas in either hemisphere and end up slamming into Wellington New Zealand or the Bronx, NY. And by the time it’s detected on radar, good luck to you and yours…
While the ancient Chinese may be noted for proverbs of wisdom, their future generations didn’t learn squat. In just May of last year, they lost control of another rocket of the exact same type. Lesson not learned. NASA raked them over the coals for their blunder but it did nothing to dissuade them from repeating the same mistake.
The previous rocket missed hitting the U.S. by a mere 15 minutes but that short length of time placed it thousands of miles away in Cote d’Ivoire in Africa. Timing is everything in the world of hurtling space debris. Noted astronomer Jonathan McDowell said the largest piece of debris ever left to freefall from space weighed 10 tons, less than half of what’s coming at us now.
McDowell also said how he had thoroughly expected the Chinese to have taken a more serious approach in fixing the problem to take better control of re-entries, but they seem fine with letting the rockets land where they will. “I think by current standards it’s unacceptable to let it re-enter uncontrolled.”
Some of the rocket may not withstand the heat of re-entry and burn up, but McDowell said not all of it will, and this includes the massive engines. “It is always difficult to assess the amount of surviving mass and number of fragments without knowing the design of the object, but a reasonable ‘rule-of-thumb’ is about 20-40 percent of the original dry mass.”
The US Space Force is doing the best they can to monitor the rocket, but when it’s erratically traveling at over 15,000 MPH they can’t issue any warnings. At most, they’ll only have a two-hour window to get the word out once they determine where it, or its remaining pieces, are going to hit.
Unless the rocket gets predicted to land on our office’s we’ll do our best to keep you updated as we find out more. If you don’t hear from us it means we’re finding out how far we can run in two hours.