“This risk can be completely avoided because technologies and mission designs now allow for completely random re-entry without being controlled (usually in remote areas of the ocean),” he said by email.
Holger Kraj, head of the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office, said international best practice is to target a remote area of the ocean and conduct a controlled re-entry when the risk of casualties is greatest.
He added that the rocket’s return range is geographically limited between latitude 41 degrees south of the equator and latitude 41 degrees north.
A spokesman said the US space agency said it would monitor the Chinese rocket’s fall to Earth.
Depending on changing weather conditions, the exact point of the rocket’s entry into the Earth’s atmosphere “can only be determined in the hours after the return,” the spokesman said, but it is estimated to enter the Earth’s atmosphere on August 1. .
The 18th Space Defense Force, part of the US military that monitors return operations, will also provide daily updates on its location.
CNN reached out to China’s Human Space Agency for comment.
Space debris weighing more than 2.2 tons is typically transported to its designated location on its first orbit around Earth, said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
“The thing is, large objects usually don’t go into orbit without an active control system,” he said.
“Without an active control system, the engine could not be restarted and brought back to Earth … it would roll into orbit and eventually burn up due to friction with the atmosphere,” McDowell said. He told CNN.
Last year, China came under fire for its handling of space debris when another unit launched a similar missile. His remains sank 10 days after launch in the Indian Ocean off the Maldives.
“We must reduce risks to people and property on Earth from reentry of space objects and increase transparency regarding these operations,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at the time.
Space debris, such as old satellites, enter the Earth’s atmosphere on a daily basis, although most of it burns up before hitting Earth and goes unnoticed.
Large space debris – such as spacecraft and rocket parts – pose very little danger to humans and infrastructure on Earth.
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