A massive piece of space garbage is about to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere uncontrollably, threatening to rain debris on a number of cities around the world in the coming days. It’s a scrap from China’s new Tianhe space station’s first module, and no one knows where it’ll end up.
The Chinese rocket Long March-5B, which weighs 46,000 pounds, recently launched the first module of the country’s new space station into orbit. The heart of the rocket should have pursued a predetermined flight path into the ocean after it separated from the rest of the rocket.
But, since it circles the earth at a speed of 17,324 miles per hour every 90 minutes, scientists have no idea where it will land. It is steadily losing altitude as it soars through the atmosphere, appearing to tumble.
Because of its high altitude, it is almost impossible to predict where it will land, but it is predicted to do so in the coming days.
“U.S. Space Command is aware of and tracking the location of the Chinese Long March 5B in space, but its exact entry point into the Earth’s atmosphere cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its reentry, which is expected around May 8,” Lt. Col. Angela Webb, U.S. Space Command Public Affairs, speak to CBS News.
The 18th Space Control Squadron, which monitors over 27,000 man-made objects in space, began providing regular updates on the rocket body’s position on Tuesday. Several other agencies are also keeping tabs on its position.