MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Space watchers will keep their eyes to the sky this weekend as debris from a Chinese rocket is expected to come crashing back to Earth. No one knows when or where it will land.
China’s powerful Long March 5B rocket successfully carried the first section of a future space station, but the 20-ton rocket failed to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.READ MORE: Fireworks Shows Return To Disney's Magic Kingdom, Epcot This Summer
“Usually rockets stages fall right back to Earth. But in this case, because it’s a single-stage rocket, the core stayed in orbit, and that’s the problem,” said CBS News Space Analyst Bill Harwood.
Right now, the 100-foot rocket is speeding around the earth at 17,000 miles per hour.READ MORE: Miami Weather: Another Round Of Storms With Frequent Lightning Tuesday Afternoon
“I think the Chinese look at this as a matter of playing the odds, right? I mean, 75% of the planet is covered by water, so you’ve got a 3 out of 4 chance of landing in an ocean,” Harwood said. He believes the probability of the debris hitting a community or an individual is “incredibly small” and “an extremely remote possibility.”
The Pentagon says it has no plans to shoot down the rocket. China is set to send 10 more up in the coming months.
“The United States, Russia, the European Space Agency, and Japan, whenever they launch rockets, they are designed to drive themselves down into the atmosphere where they can harmlessly break up after they’ve been used. Why the Chinese don’t do that is anyone’s guess,” Harwood said.MORE NEWS: Fourth Stimulus Check: Will You Get Another Relief Payment?
China insists the risk of damage from falling debris is “extremely low.” Space experts predict it will fall to Earth sometime this weekend.