WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The Chinese Long March 5B rocket had reportedly rained massive debris that would have hit New York City had the rocket re-entered the atmosphere about 15 to 20 minutes earlier.
- The rocket was used to launch a prototype crew spaceship and a cargo ship into orbit but the rocket’s 20-ton core stage fell back into the atmosphere uncontrollably a week after launch.
- Chunks of the debris landed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa and in a town in Cote d’Ivoire.
The Long March 5B rocket, the nearly 100-foot long Chinese rocket that plunged back uncontrollably into the Earth’s atmosphere on Monday, had rained debris that narrowly missed New York City, a recent report revealed.
Ars Technica, a technology-focused publication, revealed that the debris would have hit the nation’s largest metro area had the rocket re-entered the atmosphere about 15 to 20 minutes earlier.
The rocket, which was launched on May 5, carried an unnamed prototype of a newly-designed Chinese crew capsule.
But after about a week in orbit, the rocket’s 20-ton core stage fell back into the atmosphere at around 11 a.m. at a rate of thousands of miles per hour.
The debris had largely burned up on its way down, but the US Space Command noted a chunk about the size of a small bus landing in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa.
Other parts of the debris landed in a town in Cote d’Ivoire, as reported by Quartz. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.
NASA explained that a two-stage launch should drop its first rocket safely into the ocean before going into orbit. But in this case, the large part of the rocket was apparently allowed to fall back into the atmosphere uncontrolled.
According to a November 2019 report from Ars Technica, China had previously demonstrated such disregard for rocket debris. At the time, a rocket’s booster had landed into a Chinese village, smashing at least one building before spewing toxic fuel.
Source: New York Post