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Update on Long March 5B core stage crash prediction

Prediction of Long March 5B crash

The Aerospace Corporation today adjusted its prediction for the uncontrolled crash of the core stage from the Long March 5B rocket that China launched on July 24th.

According to the new prediction, the core stage will return to Earth during a 32 hour period centered on the early morning hours of July 31st above the Middle East.

The map to the right shows this. As you can see, at present the uncertainty of the prediction means the core stage could still crash almost anywhere.

That China has still done nothing to adjust the stage’s orbit now almost certainly confirms it can do nothing. This further confirms that in the year-plus since its last Long March 5B launch in May ’21, it did nothing to fix this fundamental problem. Moreover, this is the rocket’s third launch, all of which involved a core stage crashing uncontrollably. Each launch was thus a direct violation of the Outer Space Treaty, of which China is a signatory.

Another Long March 5B launch is scheduled for later this summer, to launch the last planned module to China’s Tiangong space station. Expect another violation of the treaty then as well.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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  • Jeff Wright

    Shock and Awe II…the sequel.

  • Ray Van Dune

    China may have simply calculated that if they fail to control the reentry, they would rather be seen as behaving callously, rather than incompetently! They might actually succeed, or just get lucky, but I don’t see any advantage for them in announcing their intentions ahead of the event.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Looking at the prediction as of right now, re-entry is over China, with earlier entry largely over the Indian Ocean, and later largely over the Pacific! It will be interesting to see if and how that prediction moves.

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