Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

 
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
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Long March 5B crash window narrows, aims for U.S.

Long March 5B final orbits

Zoom into Long March 5B's track over the U.S.

The reentry window of the 21-ton core stage for China’s Long March 5B rocket, launched on April 29th, has now narrowed to only 28 hours, with the centerpoint of that window on May 9th over the Pacific, only about 20 minutes before reaching Mexico and the continental U.S.

The update by the Aerospace Corporation is shown in the maps above and to the right. With the right map I have zoomed into the section over the U.S. to show the potential path of this core stage should it come down a bit later than presently predicted.

The circled point is centerpoint of the reentry window. The yellow orbital tracks are after that point, with the blue tracks previous. The tick marks indicate 15-minute intervals.

As you can see, the centerpoint is only about 20 minutes before the stage crosses Mexico and begins a half hour traverse above the continental United States from Texas to Maryland. If the stage should manage to stay up for another full orbit it will once again traverse the continental U.S., this crossing from San Diego to Cape Cod.

If the stage comes down early instead it could land anywhere from southern Europe to Australia, with the Middle East and India in between.

As I have noted already, China designed and launched this rocket knowing it was creating a giant piece of space junk that was going to fall on someone’s head. Just as that communist government has not cared that it has been dumping first stages on its own people for decades, it apparently does not care that it is dumping even bigger first stages on everyone else. The Long March 5B is the rocket they are using to launch the modules to their space station, as well as many of the future planetary missions to the Moon and Mars. And every time they launch it they will be dumping a core stage on someone, a direct violation of the Outer Space Treaty that China has signed.

The world’s governments should be outraged, and teaming up to demand that either China change this situation or delay future Long March 5B launches, or face serious financial consequences. Sadly, I do not expect this, as our present political class is either incompetent or corrupt and in the deep financial pockets of the Chinese.

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26 comments

  • Doubting Thomas

    2020 China delivers the Wuhan virus to the world. 2021 China delivers the Long March 5B core stage to a neighborhood near you.

    Looking at the track, I wonder if 2 or 3 tons of that might be a stealthy nuclear weapon to be delivered with the rest of the 21 ton stage. If this was a Bond book, I’d bet on it.

    Regardless, I’m sure that President Xiden will apologize to Chairman Xi for the United States being in the way of the 5B stage.

  • David K

    This is crazy! Are they trying to start a war? Oops, we “accidentally” dropped a big piece of metal on the White House. Two can play that game. I really hope that cooler heads will prevail in the future.

  • To act with “Random Abandon” with the possibility of causing the death of anyone, in a self-centered attempt to try and equal The USA
    in putting “payloads” on another planet, moon, asteroid, etc is truly a violation of concern for life. China, and all nations must use the utmost caution in launching these attempt with unknown deadly results. International condemnation is called for.

  • Jay

    Maybe they are testing us to see if we will shoot it down? I think the last time we shot down a satellite was US193 in 2008.

  • Phill O

    “Sadly, I do not expect this, as our present political class is either incompetent or corrupt and in the deep financial pockets of the Chinese”

    My bet is a bit of the first two and a whole lot of number 3.

  • Cotour

    “To act with “Random Abandon” with the possibility of causing the death of anyone, in a self-centered attempt to try and equal The USA in putting “payloads” on another planet, moon, asteroid, etc is truly a violation of concern for life. ”

    The Communist Chinese have killed 400 million through forced abortion, the Communist Chinese just facilitated the release of a virus upon the rest of the planet and so far has cost north of 2 million people their lives, the Communist Chinese are currently engaged in genocide if the Uighers, the Communist Chinese have clearly demonstrated that THEY DO NOT CARE about causing the random deaths of anyone on the planet.

    Are you starting to get the picture yet? Where exactly have you been? You have to be a Democrat.

  • Jeff Wright

    I’m thinking old Mexico:

    “Stages? We don’t need no stinking stages!”

  • wayne

    Jeff:
    That’s my cue, but I won’t go for the obvious one…

    “We Don’t Need No Stinking Badgers!”
    Raul’s Wild Kingdom
    UHF movie (1989)
    https://youtu.be/gx6TBrfCW54
    0:25

  • Jay

    The wife just started yelling for me to go outside to see what is falling out of the sky. At first I thought the Chinese booster was coming down early over the states of Washington and Idaho, but it was my first observation of the Starlink system!

  • “President Xiden ”

    Laughing to keep from going insane. That, as they say, is a good one.

  • George C

    I just woke from a dream that I woke from a nap in Killian Court and saw parts of the booster land in the Charles River and Storrow Drive. Partial memories of good times.

  • KilroyJC

    If it comes in 45 minutes late, it might land on Biden’s and Pelosi’s heads. . .

  • Jeff

    This current prediction offers anyone in Florida and the southern east coast (with clear skies) a good chance to see the final pass. If it is high enough to still be in sunlight, that is. The current reentry time translate to 00:37 EDT on May 9. Just after midnight on the east coast. The previous orbit with the overhead pass in FL would be about 75-80 minutes earlier. Anyone there outside between 10:30pm to 11:30pm EDT on Saturday night, May 8, should keep looking up!

    RZ – “The tick marks indicate 15-minute intervals.”
    From the Aerospace site : “Blue Line – ground track uncertainty prior to predicted reentry time (ticks at 5-minute intervals)”

    That puts the reentry point only 6-7 minutes from Mexico, 10 minutes from Dallas area. In 15 minutes it will reach New York. A little more worrisome.

    “Orange Line – area of visibility at the predicted reentry time for a ground observer.” You can see that if it =does= come down over the US, there should be many witnesses, similar to the recent SpaceX second stage show.

  • Cotour, you had suggested previously that the Chinese might be trying to hit the Capitol as a symbolic gesture.

    However, the possibility that they’re in cahoots with the Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight that currently dominates DC, leads me to think that any attempt to hit the Capitol might end up with the symbolism of hitting the White House and its Pseudodent (aka Big Guy) … sending a different, perhaps unintended, message to the American voters.

    Then again, if they were to hit the Capitol, that might be a crisis-not-to-waste to replace it with a Telecongress, that meets via secure teleconferencing from their districts (Reps) and state capitals (Senators). A way to put our representatives back in touch with the people to counter the DC inbreeding and K Street influence … and a way we can keep a close eye on them.

  • Cotour

    I think its a pretty good bet given the general vibe on the planet, in politics and generally in the country and given what appears to be the trajectory of this rouge Communist Chinese technology orbiting the earth that it is very likely to crash some place within the United States.

    If Joe Biden can “win” the presidency from his basement with 81 million votes < ;) then it is very likely that we will be expecting this gift and general message from the Communist Chinese. It just seems likely.

    Coincidence? Stranger things have happened.

    And if so maybe this event would polarize America in the correct general direction that it needs to be directed? Imagine how president Joe Biden would make all kinds of excuses for his better and master president Xi.

    The Leftist rhetoric might well go out the window.

    America and the future of the world as we know it could all come down to 15 minutes of time one way or another as a rouge Communist built space craft reenters the atmosphere out of 127,895,040 minutes.

    Could happen.

  • Jeff: That is an update I will post quite soon.

  • Jeff

    Latest update from Aerospace site shows a de-orbit about one half orbit (40 min) earlier, just SW of Australia.

    With objects in this low of an orbit, predictions will rapidly change. I would not be surprised to see it coming in close to FL.

    I have long used https://heavens-above.com/ for satellite tracking. You only have to choose your location for fairly accurate predictions. This morning’s search on this rocket body shows a couple of morning passes for my location. If clouds stay away, I’ll try to catch a glimpse of this speeding bullet.

    Name search – CZ-5B
    ID search – 48275

  • Cotour: Any speculation that this was intended to land on any particular place on the Earth reveals an ignorance that is embarrassing, especially because, as I have stated, that we will never be able to narrow any prediction down to less than half an orbit, even on the day it comes down.

    This is a chaotic event. It cannot be predicted precisely, precisely because the core stage is uncontrolled, and there is no way to adjust its flight. The Chinese are bad actors here for putting everyone in this situation, but they didn’t launch it with the specific plan to land it in the U.S.

  • Chris

    Jeff – “keep looking up” there’s a good old quote for late night TV viewers.

    Bob – Chaotic, yes. that’s how our weather is predicted. Raining here now but sun was predicted by now. So is the impact to be “partly splashy” or “mostly dusty”

    Pseudodent Xiden! and the Telecongress – it gets no better.

  • Cotour

    Zman, you have missed my point:

    “I think its a pretty good bet given the GENERAL VIBE ON THE PLANET, in politics and generally in the country and given what appears to be the trajectory of this rouge Communist Chinese technology orbiting the earth that it is very likely to crash some place within the United States.”

    The general Zietgiest on the planet right now might allow one to think in such terms. It would be par for the course.

    AND, do you think that president Xi right now is loosing sleep knowing that a piece of his space hardware might randomly land on someone else’s head? Have you been paying attention? He was not at all worried about the entire population on the planet, why would he be concerned about a piece of space junk?

    Related: CAN SOMEONE PLEASE RECONCILE THESE HEADLINES FOR ME?

    “Most Vaccinated Country on Earth Closes Schools and Sports as COVID Cases Surge — 35% of New Cases Are Fully Vaccinated Residents”
    What are the long term effects of this drug on young children? Why should children receive this vaccine if they are not susceptible to the virus? AND if they can become infected with the virus after receiving the vaccine, what is the point?

    “Pfizer Expects Vaccine Will Be “Durable Revenue Stream” As It Seeks Approval For Children 2 To 11″

    And the argument will be made: Getting the “Vaccine” will reduce the likelihood that you will die if you do contract it.

    And that may well be true, but the same effect is apparently achieved, the reduction in the negative effects and potential death if you contract the virus, by staying healthy, making sure your Vitamin D levels are in the proper range, as well as your zinc and Magnesium. As well as developing several now known inexpensive off label drug therapies to deal with it.

    If your overweight, have diabetes, and other negative contributing health issues then taking an experimental drug therapy may make sense.

    None of what has gone on coming from government has not exactly made common sense to me. Sounds more like a global experiment in human compliance to me.

    All compliments of the Communist Chinese. They could have stopped it out before it became a world wide pandemic, but they did not. The Communist leaders in China CHOSE to make sure the virus became well distributed on the planet as demonstrated by their clear actions related to the situation.

  • Cotour

    PS: It was really written tongue in cheek also :)

  • Rootabegga

    Last time I checked, a heavy rocket from one country falling onto another country is called a missile strike.

  • Lee Stevenson

    Just to get the point out from the get-go… I do not approve of this reckless nonsense… Sweden is not in danger… But a big chunk of Europe is. And believe it or not, I care about anyone that gets a chunk of space junk on their heads… Even if some unlucky Chinese dudes! I cannot verify anything about this, but the “orbital mechanics” said that apparently there was a Chinese comment on the feed of the launch which translates to “de-orbit burn achieved”… I have no idea if this is true, or if even possible… They discussed if it was just a bit of propaganda, or an actual failed attempt to de-orbit the thing safely. I know I get all sorts of grief on here for allegedly rooting for the Chinese space program, but I think that if the Chinese are genuinely looking for partners in their program then they cannot, and indeed will not continue with this kind of behaviour. I’m not one of the many conspiracy minded on here, I think if China wanted a war with the west, if you give it more than 2 seconds thought, there are many better ways than crashing a spent rocket, and if you believe they are serious about their space program.. ( which they are… They are building a space station…) , You have to believe that this behaviour cannot and will not continue. They want to be a respected world power. Dropping lumps of metal on trade partners is not the way to achieve this. Expect changes on the next launch.

  • Lee Stevenson

    And just for another record, I got my date for the vaccine today… Friday the 14th… Phizer, I’m 99% sure I’ve already had the bug, but I will take the jab anyway… Better safe than sorry innit? And I don’t care if bill gates tracks me…. My life will happily be in the “extremely boring” folder ;-)

  • Star Bird

    I can remember why Skylab came down i think some parts came down in Australia

  • ontoiran

    shoot the next one down if they don’t fix this

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