About 20 tons this part of the Chinese missile Long March CZ-5B It is one of the largest pieces of space debris to fall to Earth.
This part was part of the main body of the Chinese rocket and served to launch the first unit of the new Chinese space station.
Every day, small pieces of space junk enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Material that has been in Earth’s orbit since the beginning of space exploration. But if the smaller pieces, when they fall, cause friction in the Earth’s atmosphere and end up burning and / or disintegrating, then the larger pieces may be able to overcome this natural barrier and get down here.
In the case of the Chinese first stage, the problem is complex, as it is made of more than 30 meters wide, five widths with fuel tanks with reinforced liners. It is precisely these massive deposits that can fall into habitable areas and cause massive damage.
At the start of Friday, the remnants of the Chinese main stage were at an altitude of about 180 kilometers, traveling at speeds of more than 28,000 kilometers per hour.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin commented, “We hope it will fall in a place where it does not harm anyone.” “Hopefully in the ocean, or somewhere like that.”
Since it is an uncensored comeback, unlike the one SpaceX used in the early stages of Falcon 9 rockets, it is not expected to know when and where this “iron monster” will fall.
However, the orbit it occupies and its height are known.
The region highlighted in blue is the region in which the CZ-5B orbits, as well as the region in which it may be located | Graphic: Sarah Pitera – RTP
Various specialists who follow the path of the CZ-5B report that this space debris fell between the first and second day of the morning on Saturday and at 20:00 on Monday (Lisbon time). However, these forecasts are always very uncertain
This is not the first time that China has launched this type of missile. Something similar sparked criticism when it launched in May 2020, the date of the appearance of the model in question (CZ-5B), and also placed the central engine in an uncontrolled orbit that later returned to Earth.
The wreckage ended up falling into habitable areas in the Ivory Coast region. Fortunately, there have been no reports of injuries or deaths due to the impacts.
But this problem is not unique to China and it is not unusual for missile remnants and parts to fail to return to Earth.
Credits: Rights reserved
An example of this happened with the second stage of the Falcon 9, from SpaceX, where, after the failure of the system, it made an uncontrolled re-entry, with a portion of the vehicle (pressure tank) falling off a farm in Washington state.
Credits: Rights reserved
However, the concern about the CZ-5B is greater because the base size of this missile is about seven times larger than the second stage of the Falcon 9.
Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, says in a science article, “The launch of the CZ-5B left the initial stage in orbit for an uncontrolled return. There are more than 20 tons. It has been a standard practice for the past 30 years,” For all entities placing a charge in space, never leave such large objects – or even half of them – in orbit without guaranteeing their controlled return.
This design choice in 2021 is unacceptable and undermines the great achievement China has made in launching Tianhe. “Illegal space debris?
Space debris, or space debris, is the result of more than six decades of spaceflight. This garbage is mainly composed of rocket debris, and it also consists of debris from explosions or collisions of about 8,950 satellites in orbit since 1957.
According to the European Space Agency, it is estimated that there are more than 900,000 debris over a centimeter long in orbit. Although any impact on a working satellite appears negligible, it can cause damage and possibly end the mission in question.
ESA / DR accreditations
“The destruction of individual satellites or the permanent loss of certain orbits due to the uncontrolled growth of debris will have a devastating impact on the economic activities of Europe in space, with a direct value of more than 8 billion euros, seriously affecting the global economy, ”read on the ESA website.
Currently, there is concern on the part of satellite operators with this type of problem, and the expenses involved in the safety of this type of equipment are around 14 million euros per year, in impact deflection maneuvers.
In addition, the next few years promise to offer us another “massive” batch of new launches with thousands of small satellites, which it has already been called. Space 4.0.
One case will generate several hundreds of thousands of collision warnings per week, which is unaffordable for giant constellation operators.
Technically, there is no law preventing missile pieces from falling onto the surface of the Earth. But there are rules that determine who is responsible when it comes to damage or injury from space debris.
According to Christopher Johnson, a consultant for space legislation at the Safe World Foundation, there are two important articles explaining this: the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 and the Space Responsibility Convention of 1972. The Outer Space Treaty specifies what international players are legally allowed to do in space, and the liability convention details who is responsible for space objects That cause harm or harm.
Johnson says, “Responsibility for compensation is not the result that the state violated the law in any way, but only that it is responsible for the resulting damages,” and that there is now an obligatory duty to pay compensation for this damage to that state.
Many of the absolute countries – including the United States and much of Europe and China – have accepted the terms of the liability agreement.
This means that hypothetically, if a portion of this Chinese missile caused damage to a signatory to the liability agreement, that country could choose to invoke it and hold China financially responsible. This is all my theory. In fact, it is not so simple.
In short, there are a number of reasons why a state might resort to a liability agreement against an enemy (or ally), but in essence, citing a liability treaty is a power game.