Hopefully this goes well …
The US Department of Defense is currently not planning to shoot down the Chinese Long March space rocket, which is apparently falling to earth in an uncontrolled manner. “We can do a lot of things, but we don’t have any plans to shoot them down right now,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told journalists on Thursday.
▶ ︎ The Pentagon expects the crash on Saturday or Sunday. An exact crash site is difficult to predict. “We hope it ends up in a place where it won’t harm anyone,” Austin said.
Last Thursday, the rocket launched the first module of a new Chinese space station. After separating from the component, it began to orbit the earth in an irregular trajectory and has been slowly losing altitude since then.
▶ ︎ Austin indirectly accused China of negligence: “I think that speaks to the fact that there is or should be a requirement for those of us who operate in space to work in a safe and thoughtful mode,” he said Minister.
Because about 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water, landing in the sea is most likely. However, a crash in an inhabited area or onto a ship cannot be ruled out.
It is not the first time that the Chinese space agency has lost control of a spacecraft. In 2018, the Tiangong-1 space laboratory shattered when it reentered the atmosphere. However, China denied having lost control.
The construction of its own space station is a central component of China’s ambitious space program. Operations are scheduled to begin next year.