The likelihood that a 20-ton Chinese rocket in Thailand will crash into Thailand this weekend is very small, Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) announced yesterday afternoon.
The core of China’s Long March 5B missile was spotted in unstable orbit around Earth on Thursday, and experts say the debris is likely to reach the ground by Saturday or Sunday at the latest.
GISTDA Director Khun Pakorn Apaphant explained that China’s missile, launched on April 29 for a mission to deliver the main module of China’s first space station, the “Tianhe”, went completely wrong.
He said GISTDA and three international agencies – the United States Space Command, European Space Agency and Aerospace – expect the 20-ton rocket core to enter the atmosphere today or tomorrow and tumble towards Earth.
“The time and location where it will fall will be clear about three hours before it hits the ground,” he said.
He said there was only a 0.18 per cent chance that the falling missile core would hit Thailand, as calculated by AstroLab’s ZIRCON space traffic management system.
“However, we will monitor the situation and provide updates,” he said.
He added that most large pieces of space debris fall to Earth without causing property damage. About 150 tons of space material re-enter the atmosphere every year, but there have been no casualties so far.
But the last time China launched a Long March 5B rocket, “they ended up with big long metal rods flying through the air and damaging several buildings in Ivory Coast,” said Harvard University astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell. He was referring to reports of the crash of Chinese space debris on the west coast of Africa on May 11 last year.
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