Watch Out For That Rocket!

May 17, 2021
China’s 5B Rocket
By 篁竹水声 – Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60652472

That’s what space agencies around the world were saying when China’s 5B rocket was set to reenter Earth’s orbit in an uncontrolled descent. Yikes, right? The good news is that the rocket landed in the Indian Ocean and no one was hurt but, until it did, space agencies were on high alert and ready for the possibility of a free-falling rocket to land, well, anywhere. While China proved to the world that their worrying was for nothing, it’s still worth pointing out that these uncontrolled rocket reentries aren’t common and debris from the hit can wind up miles from where the rocket safely crash-landed. In fact, even debris from controlled reentries can wind up elsewhere. Recently, a piece of debris from the second stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch landed in a farm in Washington. Thankfully, no one was hurt. What’s more is that if the twenty ton 5B rocket crash-landed anywhere but the middle of a large body of water, it would’ve caused a lot of damage. So, should space agencies worry about and monitor these unpredictable reentries? Absolutely! Like we always say, better safe than sorry!