Hot topics close

Chinese rocket updates: Debris hurtling toward Earth at 18000 mph

Space Force won't know the precise landing location until after the rocket body has already landed, according to Space Track. Original story: Predictions for when and where Chinese rocket debris hurtling toward Earth is expected to land are narrowing. The

Latest update, 8:24 p.m.: The reentry window has shifted to between 9:11 and 11:11 p.m. ET. Saturday, with the projected landing now in the Mediterranean Basin.

Update, 5:03 p.m. The latest data from the U.S. Space Force has narrowed the reentry window for the rocket body to just two hours: 9 to 11 p.m. ET.

Computer projections show that if the debris were to reenter the atmosphere at exactly 10:04 p.m. ET on Saturday, it likely would be over the northern Atlantic Ocean, though the location varies minute to minute.

Space Force won't know the precise landing location until after the rocket body has already landed, according to Space Track.

Original story:

Predictions for when and where Chinese rocket debris hurtling toward Earth is expected to land are narrowing.

The section is part of a rocket called Chinese Long March 5B, which launched a module of the country's first permanent space station into orbit last week.

Officials have been tracking the rocket body's uncontrolled return to Earth for several days now, estimating when it might reenter the atmosphere.

MORE: Chinese rocket debris expected to plunge toward Earth

The rocket body's reentry is currently projected at anywhere between 7:30 p.m. ET and 1:30 a.m. ET, according to the latest U.S. Space Force data.

The U.S. Space Force has projected four possible orbits for reentry in play -- three over water, one over land.

Potential landings over land are subject to change, but currently include the Southeastern U.S., Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, parts of Southern Europe, much of Northern and Central Africa, the Middle East, Southern India and Australia.

Since the rocket section is moving at 18,000 mph, experts won't be able to estimate a reentry location until a few hours before it happens.

People can follow the latest reentry time estimates at Space Track, which is working with the U.S. Space Force on tracking the debris.

MORE: Video: NASA astronauts' discuss historic splashdown

The massive rocket body measures 98 feet long and 16.5 feet wide and weighs 21 metric tons, according to the Aerospace Corporation, a nonprofit that performs technical analyses and assessments for a variety of government, civil and commercial customers.

PHOTO: The Long March-5B Y2 rocket carrying the core module of China's space station, Tianhe, blasts off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Wenchang, Hainan Province of China, April 29, 2021.  (Xie Jiawei/VCG via Getty Images, FILE)PHOTO: The Long March-5B Y2 rocket carrying the core module of China's space station, Tianhe, blasts off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Wenchang, Hainan Province of China, April 29, 2021.  (Xie Jiawei/VCG via Getty Images, FILE)

PHOTO: The Long March-5B Y2 rocket carrying the core module of China's space station, Tianhe, blasts off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Wenchang, Hainan Province of China, April 29, 2021. (Xie Jiawei/VCG via Getty Images, FILE)

Instead of falling downrange during the launch, the empty rocket body reached orbital velocity, which placed it "in an elliptical orbit around Earth where it is being dragged toward an uncontrolled reentry," the corporation explained in a blog post.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Chinese rocket updates: Debris hurtling toward Earth at 18,000 mph originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

Similar news
This week's most popular news