Will Chinese Space Junk Crash Down On Maine This Weekend?
Just thinking about the potential for this happening has the ELO song "Don't Bring Me Down" running through my head. The song, a late 1970s pop classic, was not about a relationship going sour. Nope... The song was actually about the de-orbiting of NASA's Skylab space station.
When the massive, orbiting, science lab outlived its usefulness, NASA decided the best way to get rid of it was to make it crash into Earth. Typically, these crashes are planned so that the majority of the spacecraft burns up in the atmosphere and what is left ends up in a spacecraft graveyard in the Indian Ocean. However, there were concerns that would not happen with Skylab. In fact, some larger (identifiable) parts landed in Australia and New Zealand.
It looks like we're facing a similar situation now.
According to Space.com, a 25 ton piece of Chinese space junk is expected to fall to Earth before the end of the month.
The article explains that the "junk" is actually the core section of a Long March 5B rocket that was used to lift a section of the new Chinese space station into orbit. The Aerospace Corporation's Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies predicts the rocket will reenter the atmosphere between Saturday morning and Monday morning.
They estimate that all but 20% to 40% of the 25 ton rocket carcass will burn up, That means somewhere between 5 and 10 tons of debris could reach the ground.
While it is too early to tell exactly where the debris will come down, the current plot shows that it could land anywhere in the US (including Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts), much of Europe, all of Africa, or parts of Asia.
So, wear a hardhat and keep an eye on the skies this weekend.