Chinese rocket launch (April 30, 2021)
Photo: Wang Jiangbo / imago images / Xinhua
The US Department of Defense is following with concern the apparently uncontrolled return of a Chinese "Long March" type space missile to Earth.
The rocket is currently sinking "almost intact" and is expected to reenter the atmosphere around Saturday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday (local time).
Calculating an exact crash site is currently almost impossible due to the uncontrolled sinking.
Last Thursday, the rocket launched the first module of a new Chinese space station.
After separating from the component, it began to orbit the earth in an irregular trajectory and has been slowly losing altitude since then.
Because about 70 percent of the earth's surface is covered by water, landing in the sea is most likely.
However, a crash in an inhabited area or on a ship cannot be ruled out.
So far, according to Kirby, it's too early to take action.
The White House has also cautiously criticized the issue.
Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for President Joe Biden said Wednesday, "We want to work with the international community to promote leadership and responsible behavior in the space industry."
Sharp criticism comes from the Harvard researcher
Jonathan McDowell, who at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics deals with space debris, among other things, becomes clearer.
He says Beijing made no effort to avoid the junk problem when designing the new missile: "This is real negligence."
Most countries considered the problem when designing a new missile.
It is not the first time that the Chinese space agency has lost control of a spacecraft.
In 2018, the Tiangong-1 space laboratory shattered when it reentered the atmosphere.
However, China denied having lost control.
The construction of its own space station is a central component of China's ambitious space program.
Operations are scheduled to start in the coming year.
jok / AFP