The Pentagon said, Wednesday, that it was tracking the Chinese missile, which is scheduled to make an uncontrolled re-entry into the atmosphere at the end of this week, with the risk of colliding in a populated area.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was “informed, knowing that space leadership is literally tracking this missile debris.”
On Thursday, China launched the first of three elements from its “CSS” space station, which is powered by a Long March 5B missile. It is the body of this missile that will land in the next few days and no one knows where.
“It’s almost the missile body, if I understand it correctly.” “It is almost intact,” adding that a return to the atmosphere was planned “around Saturday.”
After separating the space module, the operator began to orbit the planet in an irregular path, slowly losing altitude, making any prediction about its entry point into the atmosphere, and thus its fall point, nearly impossible.
It would likely decompose upon entering the atmosphere, leaving only limited debris to shatter. And if it remains whole, and the planet is 70% water, then there is a good chance that the missile will be damaged at sea, but this is not certain. It could collide with a populated area or on a ship.
When asked about the possibility of destroying space debris if land areas were threatened, the Pentagon spokesman replied that it was “too early” to say so.
“We are watching and following him as closely as possible,” he said. “But it’s too early to know where he’s going and if there’s anything that can be done.”
This is not the first time that China has lost control of a spacecraft upon its return to Earth. In April 2018, the Tiangong-1 space laboratory disintegrated upon its return to the atmosphere, two years after it was out of service. The Chinese authorities denied that the laboratory had spiraled out of their control.