China's space debris: What we know so far

Earth by NASA is licensed under Unsplash

A 22.5-metric-ton piece of space debris belonging to a Chinese Long March-5B rocket is about to make an uncontrolled reentry into Earth's atmosphere, with little information about when or where it will land. Here is what we know so far:

The debris itself is the core stage of the Long March-5B rocket, which is surrounded by four side boosters it uses to place its payload directly into low orbit. The Long March 5B launched the core module of China’s work-in-progress space station into orbit on April 28, and since then, space debris monitoring groups have kept a close eye on the rocket's core stage falling back to the planet at an uncontrolled pace.

It was speculated that the dislodged core would perform an active maneuver to de-orbit itself, though a Thursday press conference with Wang Jue, commander in chief of Long March 5B launch vehicle, failed to mention the maneuver, according to a translation from Space News.

The debris got into Earth's orbit after sending parts used to construct China's space station scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022. China is expecting 10 more launches to carry additional parts of the space station, according to the Guardian.

Earth by NASA is licensed under Unsplash