Washington: A severe warning of a possible crash of a 21-tonne rocket, used by China to make a space launch last month, has been issued. The US Department of Defense has begun the surveillance of the Chinese rocket, announcing that information on it would be published on the website. It could be the second major incident in the last three years of a Chinese rocket or spacecraft crashing onto the earth. In 2018, China’s Tiangong-1 space station had crashed in the Pacific Ocean.
On 29th April, China launched the Tianhe space station into orbit with the help of the Long March 5B rocket. The Tianhe is considered the main module of China’s space station. The Chinese rocket entered the earth’s orbit while launching the space station into low-Earth orbit. China has not released any statement about the rocket’s entry into the earth’s orbit.
At present, China’s Long March 5B rocket is orbiting the earth at a 27,600 km/hr speed. According to the Space News website, the rocket is orbiting the earth every 90 minutes at an altitude of about 300 km. The website also warned that the Chinese rocket could crash into any part of the earth in the next few days.
The information has been confirmed by the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Department of Defense. Pentagon spokesman Mike Howard has stated that the US Space Command was monitoring the movements of China’s rocket. Howard claimed that the Chinese rocket might crash on earth on May 8. However, its exact location can be known only a few hours in advance, he explained. The crash of a 21-tonne space rocket will possibly be the largest uncontrolled re-entry in the history of space.
In just three years, China launched a space station and has subsequently allowed a rocket to crash on earth. The incidents have cast doubt on China’s intentions in space. Rockets, space station and satellites launched by China have previously also been accused of being used for surveillance and military purposes, along with research. John William Raymond, head of the US space force, had only recently warned about the capability of China’s Shijian-17 satellite. Even the US military intelligence agency had released a report last month, warning about China’s movements in space.
Drawing attention to China’s ambitions in space, US analyst Gordon Chang had warned late last year that it could cause the next 9/11 in space.