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China: We like dumping out-of-control rockets on your head!

China has now signaled that it intends to ramp up the launch rate of its Long March 5B rocket, its most powerful rocket but also a rocket with a core stage that falls to Earth out-of-control after each launch, risking injury and damage to others.

Liu Bing, director of the general design department at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), told Chinese media that the the Long March 5B, designed for launches to low Earth orbit, would be used together with the Yuanzheng upper stage series to launch multiple satellites for constellations.

Though not clearly stated, the launcher and YZ-2 combination could be used to help deliver high numbers of satellites into orbit for the planned national “guowang” satellite internet megaconstellation.

It is very possible that with the addition of an upper stage, engineers could reconfigure the rocket so that the first stage is shut down and separated earlier so that it immediately falls into an ocean drop zone following launch. At the same time, making sure that drop zone is always over the ocean might be difficult for some polar launches.

What China really has to do is to upgrade the engines on the core stage so that they can be restarted. At present these engines can only be started once, and once shut down they are dead. If the stage reaches orbit — which it has done on all previous launches — there is then no way to control it, and since that orbit is unstable the stage crashes to Earth, who knows where, shortly thereafter. With restartable engines the stage could easily be de-orbited properly.

China has expressed utter contempt for the complaints of other nations about these out-of-control crashes, claiming the risk is infinitesimal. While quite small, it still exists.

Ted Muelhaupt of the Aerospace Corporation said in July that the odds of debris from the reentry following the launch of the Wentian module ranged from one in 230 to one in 1,000. This was more than an order of magnitude greater than internationally accepted casualty risk threshold for the uncontrolled reentry of rockets of one in 10,000, stated in a 2019 report issued by the U.S. Government Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices.

Small or not, China is a signatory to the Outer Space Treaty, and every out-of-control crash has been a violation of that treaty. This behavior clearly makes China a rogue nation, not to be trusted.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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