The core stage of China’s biggest rocket, the Long March 5B, made an uncontrolled re-entry over the Atlantic Ocean today, only about fifteen minutes after passing almost directly over New York City.
While the size of the Long March 5B’s core stage made Monday’s unguided re-entry remarkable, most of the rocket was expected to burn up as it plunged back into the atmosphere. Most of the rocket was made up of hollow propellant tanks, but the dense turbomachinery of the core stage’s two YF-77 main engines could have survived the fall from space.
It appears that the design of that core stage includes engines that cannot be restarted, which means every single Long March 5B launch will include a similar uncontrolled re-entry.
As a signatory to the Outer Space Treaty, China is liable for any damage or harm done by any space object they launch into space. I guess they figure they are already liable for the Wuhan flu, a falling rocket can’t make that much difference anymore.
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