October 16, 2021

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US Space Command is tracking China’s falling rocket booster, but won’t shoot it down

4 min read

The U.S. Space Command is closely tracking a large Chinese rocket body falling uncontrollably back to Earth that is predicted to hit the atmosphere sometime late Saturday (May 8).

Odds are that the 23-ton (21-metric ton) Long March 5B rocket core booster, will strike an uninhabited area since 70% of Earth’s surface is covered in ocean. It’s not the largest piece of debris to ever fall uncontrolled back to Earth; NASA’s Skylab space station reentry in 1979, for example, was much more massive, at 85 tons (77 metric tons). But the booster’s fall comes just over a week after it successfully launched Tianhe, the core module of China’s new space station, into orbit.

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