So … What’s Happening With This Huge Rocket Falling Back to Earth This Weekend?
There will be lots of Star Wars jokes in this. It's my way of coping with the stress.
It’s nice to know that I learned about this on TikTok, but apparently, there is a rocket that’s just barreling towards the Earth and no one knows exactly where it’s going to land.
The Chinese Long March 5B, a 23-ton piece of space debris, is currently out of control—really chill stuff—and is tumbling towards Earth with a lot of uncertainty about its final destination, since even the best estimates could be significantly off the mark depending on fairly small, unpredictable factors. So they’ve basically got an estimated portion of the world where it could land, and that portion is basically most of the world, “anywhere between 41.5 degrees north latitude and 41.5 degrees south latitude,” according to the New York Times. So … it’s anyone’s guess where this thing is heading, though current estimates put it anywhere from northeastern Africa to the Indian Ocean.
According to NPR, the rocket is probably going to hit the water, as is the case with most things that fall to Earth, just because most of the Earth’s surface is covered with water.
“Despite its size as one of the 10 largest objects to ever reenter Earth’s atmosphere, scientists say it’s unlikely that the now-uncontrolled booster will actually hit someone. Given the fact that most of the planet is covered in water, there’s about a 70% chance the debris will fall into an ocean.”
Okay cool, but like, it’s that other 30% that is wigging people out, and while the odds of any one person or location being affected are incredibly tiny, it’s not like there’s no cause for concern. NASA and others involved in space activities are pretty mad about China’s failure to even attempt to control where its rockets fall, and space debris has fallen over populated areas before, as the New York Times points out. It wouldn’t even be a first for one of these specific rockets, as the first one China launched “also made an uncontrolled re-entry, with some debris raining down on a village in the Ivory Coast.”
So Saturday (or maybe even Sunday?!), we’re all just going to see where this rocket is headed and, I guess, hope for the best.
“I don’t want to hypothesize or speculate about possible actions the department might or might not take here,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters this week, and like John, buddy, I get it. BUT what if you maybe speculated a bit more and gave us some kind of reassurance that’s not “EH you’ll probably be fine.” It’s been a rough year. Probably isn’t really cutting it.
I mean, look, I’m no scientist, but if we can just pull a Boba Fett and knock the thing out of the sky somewhere convenient, that would be a big relief.
Like, for once, Kylo Ren had the right idea.
The thing is: I’m sure we’re going to be fine. No one seems particularly worried about the situation, but then again, the irrational part of my brain keeps going “Yeah, that’s what they want you to think” every time I stop to think about this.
Anyway, this is me running for comfort because no one seems too worried about it.
May we all head into the weekend with hopes that this rocket finds the ocean.
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