Chinese space junk narrowly missed hitting New York City, report says - Fox News

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Space junk from a new Chinese rocket narrowly missed dropping down on New York City Monday night, according to a report, largely burning up in the atmosphere before some of the debris survived long enough to slam into West Africa.China test-launched its new single-stage Long March 5B rocket last Tuesday, propelling its cargo into orbit before the 20-ton core eventually fell back into the atmosphere, according to Ars Technica, a technology publication. In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, China's new large carrier rocket Long March-5B blasts off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China's Hainan Province, May 5, 2020. The Long March-5B made its maiden flight on Tuesday, sending the trial version of China's new-generation manned spaceship and a cargo return capsule for test into space. (Guo Cheng/Xinhua via AP) It�s unlikely that anywhere near that large of an object is what returned to Earth -- but fragments weighing up to several hundred pounds could have survived re-entering the atmosphere, astronomer Jonathan McDowell�of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics�told the outlet.The U.S. Space Force�s 18th Space Control Squadron, which detects, tracks and identifies all manmade objects in orbit, confirmed the re-entry over the Atlantic Ocean at 8:33 p.m. PT Monday.The doomed core passed right over New York City, Ars reported -- and if re-entry had been just a few minutes earlier, debris could reportedly have showered the Big Apple.Instead, at least part of it fell on a town in Cote d�Ivoire, Quartz reported.McDowell on Twitter said he could �conclude� that the objects that fell on Cote d�Ivoire �are very likely parts of the Chinese rocket stage.�His Twitter feed shows a number of additional possible crash sites in the path of the returning rocket core,�including at least one piece that damaged a house. No injuries were reported.�Impressive how far downrange debris can get at 28000 km/hr!� he wrote.A typical, two-stage launch will drop its first rocket into the ocean before reaching orbit, according to NASA. That�s safer than sending an enormous object into orbit that will eventually come back for an uncontrolled re-entry.CHINA PLANS TO COMPLETE SPACE STATION BY 2022It�s also not the first time China has reportedly let its space junk fall haphazardly back to Earth -- including the time it apparently let a rocket booster drop onto one of its own villages,�spewing toxic fuel and destroying at least one building, Ars reported in November 2019.China�s space launch safety practices were so concerning to Greg Autry, a former member of the Trump administration�s NASA Landing Team, that he wrote an op-ed in Space News magazine last May urging the president and Congress to address the issue.CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP�On April 20, China launched the 100th mission of its highly successful Long March-3 rocket series,� he wrote at the time. �[While it] successfully lofted a navigation satellite, designated as Beidou-3I1Q, toward its geosynchronous orbit, it also littered the Chinese landscape with a collection of dangerous rocket boosters leaking toxic fuel.�He also described a series of other launch events that resulted in �plummeting space junk� and other safety hazards.�The safety standards used in Chinese space launch would leave American regulators apoplectic,� Autry added.In the U.S., the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office is scheduled to launch the sixth test flight of its new X-37B from Cape Canaveral in Florida�on Saturday, the Space Force announced last week.Read More

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