The Pentagon said Tuesday it is tracking an out-of-control Chinese rocket that is expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere this weekend.
The Chinese Long March 5B rocket was used last week to launch a section of Beijing’s planned space station. Most smaller space debris burns up as it enters Earth’s atmosphere, but this rocket — weighing in at about 21 tons — has prompted concerns that parts could cause damage if they fall over inhabited areas. Foreign trackers say there is not enough information coming out of China to be able to determine when and where the rocket will fall.
“Its exact entry point into the Earth’s atmosphere cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its reentry, which is expected around May 8,” said Pentagon spokesman Mike Howard. “All debris can be potential threats to spaceflight safety and the space domain.”
The 18th Space Control Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California tracks more than 27,000 man-made objects in space, most of which are in low-Earth orbit, Pentagon officials said.
Information publicly released about space debris can be found at www.space-track.org, according to the Department of Defense.