China Dropped a Giant Rocket Back to Earth in Uncontrolled Fall
The 18-tonne core stage of a Long March rocket tumbled across the skies of New York City and LA before crashing into the Atlantic Ocean.
VANDENBERG, CALIFORNIA — A huge piece of a rocket crashed into the Atlantic Ocean at 8:33 a.m. on May 11, according to the U.S. Space Command's 18th Space Control Squadron. The object, the core stage of China's Long March 5B rocket, laned off the coast of Mauritania.
SpaceFlightNow.com reports the core stage of the Chinese rocket was 30 meters long and 5 meters wide. According to CNN, the rocket carried an uncrewed prototype spacecraft to orbit before making an uncontrolled fall to Earth.
The 18-tonne core stage is one of the biggest objects to fall uncontrollably to Earth. Jonathan McDowell at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics tweeted that the rocket dashed over Los Angeles and New York City before crashing near West Africa.
McDowell says the core stage had slowed enough that it would have at most destroy a house by the time of impact.
CNN reports the only larger objects to have made uncontrolled falls were Skylab in 1979, Skylab's rocket stage in 1975, Russia's Salyut 7 in 1991, and the space shuttle Columbia in 2003.
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