Massive Chunk From China’s Failed Rocket That Fell To Earth Missed Hitting New York By MINUTES

A giant part of China’s failed rocket crashed on Earth last Monday, but a few minutes earlier and it would have hit New York City.

According to reports, the pieces would have come down on New York if the Long March 5B would have re-connected with the atmosphere 15 minutes before.

The Chinese Long March CZ-5B was launched on May 5 carrying an experimental body. It malfunctioned after only a week in space and that inevitably led to the catastrophe.

Weighing a massive 20 tons, the rocket core stage came down at our planet at around 11 am ET, with a speed of thousands of miles per minute.

Even though a large part of the pieces burned down during the descent, a giant part smashed into the Atlantic Ocean near the coast of West Africa, as reported by the Independent.

According to astronomers, the chunk had a length of 93 feet and weighed a staggering 20 tons – which makes it the largest object in decades to re-enter the atmosphere uncontrollably.

Smaller pieces of the craft landed in Cote d’Ivoire but there were no casualties or injuries reported.

An astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics named Jonathan McDowell spoke to the Independent saying:

“Even in space there’s a thin bit of atmosphere left.

Objects in low orbit travel at 18,000 mph, so even a tiny bit of air makes a huge headwind.

This causes ‘orbital decay’ – the satellite’s orbit gets lower and lower over time, into the denser atmosphere where the headwind is even bigger.”

The rocket was intended to launch a cargo capsule and a next-gen spaceship built to send astronauts to the Moon.

The re-entry was confirmed by a unit of the United States Air Force that monitors space debris in the orbit of our planet called the 18th Space Control Squadron.

According to the agency, it was notable not only for the size of the rocket but also the extent of its fiery descent.

Experts were not successful in determining where the pieces would eventually land, with many of them speculating it could possibly be in Australia, Africa, the US, or into the ocean.

The course of the debris was extremely difficult to predict and in the end the US Air Force’s prediction was give-or-take half an hour, and it went three-quarters of the way around the world, according to McDowell.

Before it came splashing down into the ocean, the rocket core flew above New York City and LA.

Even though the descent was described as ‘uncontrolled,’ it was not unplanned – such launches are planned with the re-entry of parts of rockets or launch vehicles – sometimes in uncontrolled and sometimes controlled descents back to our planet.

‘I’ve never seen a major reentry pass directly over so many major conurbations,’ said McDowell, adding that it fortunately missed any land inhabited by people.

According to astronomers, the chance of it landing in an area where people live was small but if it did do so the rocket core could have demolished a building.

“For a large object like this, dense pieces like parts of the rocket engines could survive reentry and crash to Earth,’ McDowell told CNN.

Once they reach the lower atmosphere they are traveling relatively slowly, so worst case is they could take out a house.”

This is the biggest vehicle ever sent to space by China and just shows how ambitious the country has become.

The rocket was launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Center located in the Hainan province of China on May 5 and remained in space for several days before crashing down.

China has made a lot of investments in its space program in the last few years as it tries to go head to head with the United States – which remains the only country to have sent a person to the Moon.

Assembly of the Chinese Tiangong space station (meaning ‘Heavenly Palace’ in English), is set to start this year and end in 2022.

In addition, China became the first county to land on the far side of the moon back in January of 2019.

They also deployed a lunar rover that has driven for around 1500 feet thus far.

The spacecraft that was launched by the Chinese rocket is made to be used for transporting astronauts from and to the space station when it is complete – as well as for potential future Moon missions.

You can see the rocket’s successful May 5 launch in the video below.

What are your thoughts on this story? Let us know by joining the conversation in the comments and please share this article if you’ve found it informative.

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