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Long March 5B crash estimate as of today

May 3rd prediction of Long March 5B crash
Click for full image.

According to estimates this morning by the Aerospace Corporation, the 21-ton core stage of China’s Long March 5B rocket will come crashing down to Earth sometime on May 10th, plus or minus 41 hours.

Their map to the right illustrates all the orbits that will take place during that time period, which in turn shows all the possible places that core stage might land. For example, though the center point in that time period puts the stage down in the Pacific west of South America, should it go down just a little more than two orbits later it will then be crossing over the entire continental United States, with even a very slim chance it could land on my own house in Arizona! If it should come down a little early instead it could land on Europe, the Middle East, India, or Australia.

This estimate is very very uncertain, and will be refined in the days ahead, though because of the chaotic nature of decaying orbits it will be impossible to refine it to less than half an orbit, even on the day of its return.

Nor can anyone do anything about it. Large sections of this big piece of hardware is going to hit the ground in an uncontrolled manner. And China, a signatory to the Outer Space Treaty which forbids exactly this sort of uncontrolled reentry, launched it anyway.

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  • Phill O

    “China, a signatory to the Outer Space Treaty which forbids exactly this sort of uncontrolled reentry, launched it anyway.”

    No surprise there! They have bought off the politicians who could give them a problem.

  • Cotour

    Who wants to place a bet that this 21 ton gift from Communist Chinese goes through the roof of the Capitol building, Washington D.C.?

    Just one more symbolic message from the Communist Chinese in concert with the current administration and the insane Globalist / Socialist Left allied with it.

  • Kyle

    This would be a good opportunity to test out that Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System.

  • Kyle: If they try such a thing, they need to do it very late in the game, so that any of the exploded debris will fall to Earth rather than stay in space and be more space junk.

  • Skunk Bucket

    I couldn’t get the link to the image to work, so I typed it in. Here’s the address to copy and paste if necessary:

    That leftmost orbit is a little too close to my homestead for comfort. Not that the chance of this thing actually injuring anyone is statistically high, but this IS 2021.

  • Tregonsee

    In the past, some equally “uncontrolled” Chinese reentries have landed remarkably close to Point Nemo. Which raises a significant “Hmmm?!” Also being in the footprint, I have my fingers crossed.

  • Damn, it’s going to miss Portland. :(

  • James Street

    Commies gonna commie that’s what they do.

    So why are the godless Chicom commies sneaking their scientists, doctors and engineers into America? The possibilities are horrifying.

    Yesterday on Sunday Morning Futures Maria Bartiromo talked about touring the Texas border with Texas Governor Abbott.

    “One guard told me that they apprehended a group from China and the group from China told them that they paid $50,000 a head. And by the way these were scientists and doctors and engineers from China. You have to ask why the CCP is sending these people through the border. Obviously they don’t want to be noticed. What are they doing when they get here?”

    Source starting at 8:09:

  • Jeff Wright

    Too big for Aegis to vaporize. This is why I’ve cried out for sizable space based assets. Even if SLS cost 3 bil a shot…it would have saved the taxpayer in allowing us to mothball antiquated conventional weapons and basing, should Starship fail.

  • pzatchok

    I have an idea that like other treaties the US has signed they have a small line in them that states something like.

    If, in this case, China looses a federal lawsuit the US state department will make the restitution and bill China later.

    There is also a clause in our normal trade agreements that a foreign power has to keep a small amount of cash on deposit inside the US just in case of outstanding bills by their citizens and companies.
    We can also hold Chinese goods until they pay or just sell off the goods until the debt is paid.

    It would raise a big international stink but China would loose face as they say all over the world.
    China would pay because the amount would be small and the publicity would be big.

  • James Street asked: “You have to ask why the CCP is sending these people through the border.”

    I don’t know that the CCP is ‘sending’ people. Maybe those folks caught were thinking they could do better here. Professionals are often the first to leave a society, for obvious reasons. I’ve worked with Russian engineers who left the very moment (not an exaggeration) they could in 1991.

    Now, the US is a long way from what it was on the opportunity scale, but still a sight better than China.

  • wayne

    Doctor Octopus
    “The Power of the Sun, in the Palm of my Hands”

    ICBM Launch Animation

  • David M. Cook

    Perhaps they‘re looking for wives. Remember all those female babies rescued from China by the Christian organizations? They would be in their 20s now, ready to get married. Just an idea!

  • Andrew X

    Who wants to place a bet that this 21 ton gift from Communist Chinese goes through the roof of the Capitol building, Washington D.C.?

    I’ll take that bet. Why would they kill their own best allies?

  • Cotour

    They are drones, just like in a bee hive and are all replaceable. The symbolism is what is important.

  • Dick Eagleson


    We now seem to be making decent progress toward developing and deploying “space-based assets” after decades of dereliction. SLS will have zero to do with that. First, it’s not a Space Force asset. Second, it’s far too expensive and production-limited to be useful for any consequential military purpose – especially the deployment of “space-based assets.”

    Nor does SLS constitute any sort of backstop to a “failed” Starship. The most serious way in which Starship might “fail” would be to never achieve reusability for its upper stage. Super Heavy will work because it is just a giant, more durable version of a Falcon 9 first stage and doesn’t have to do any pioneering aerobatics in order to be recovered. Even should Starship upper stages never be reliably recoverable, a deliberately expendable version would cost little more than one of the current generation of prototypes. These have already been demonstrated to be many times faster, and far cheaper, to produce than are SLSes.

    You simply need to accept that SLS has never been, and will never be, anything but a hook upon which to hang pork for favored constituencies. When it’s gone, as it soon will be, its absence will be “little-noticed nor long-remembered” by anyone who wasn’t drawing a paycheck related to it – and probably not even by many of them as Starship will open up a lot of potential useful work even for dinosaur legacy contractors.

    LM-5B upper stages are a hard problem from the standpoint of externally imposing a controlled disposal. That’s mainly because they’re very large items. Even an ASAT weapon fired downward from above wouldn’t guarantee a complete absence of surviving debris, including pieces blown into higher, longer-lasting orbits. About the best that could be done with kinetic ASAT warheads would be to take most of one down in a more-or-less controlled manner.

    Even Starship would be a difficult basis upon which to develop a solution. LM-5B core stages are well over 100 feet long and they tumble after payload deployment. One would have to equip a Starship with some means of grappling and taking spin off one of these, then attaching some sort of de-orbit motor. Not impossible, but not simple either.

  • James Street

    Blair K Ivey, that’s the problem. We have no idea who these people are and their motives. And $50 bucks says your Russian engineer coworkers came to the US via the legal immigration process. That was back in the day when all government employees were not working against America.

    The September 2020 issue of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis newsletter has an article by Brian T. Kennedy who is an expert on China. Some points he makes:

    “The CCP operates a vast intelligence network in the U.S. as well. It is made up not merely of intelligence operatives working for the Ministry of State Security, but also a myriad of business and industry officials. Chinese scholar associations, Confucius Institutes operating on American campuses, and 370,000 Chinese students attending American universities. Every one of these Chinese citizens is subject to Article 7 of the PRC’s National Intelligence Law of 2017, which requires that ‘any organization or citizen shall support, assist, and cooperate with state intelligence work.’ Students and others must report to handlers in Chinese consulates and embassies about who they meet, the research they’re working on, and whatever else is demanded.”

    It should not be surprising that a combination of the efforts of this network and of China-based cyber criminals yields $500 to $600 billion of intellectual property theft annually.”


    “Perhaps the greatest threat to the U.S. posed by the CCP is its corruption of America’s business and financial elites, who view the economic benefits of dealing with China as more important than America’s national interests.”

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