10-storey tall Chinese rocket likely heading for Abuja at uncontrollable speed

10-storey tall Chinese rocket likely heading for Abuja at uncontrollable speed

Reports suggest parts of a Chinese rocket reportedly ten-story tall is heading to earth at an uncontrollable speed with Abuja, Nigeria's capital, named as one of its possible destinations.

Launched on April 29, 2020 from Wenchang in China's Hainan province, experts and officials say the 30-metre high core of the Long March 5B rocket is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere sometime late Saturday or early Sunday.

NBC reported that the 98-foot-long, 20-ton section of China's Long March 5B rocket is tumbling at 18,000 miles per hour after blasting off last month carrying part of the country's new space station and it could hit New York, Los Angeles, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, the Nigerian capital of Abuja or Beijing.

Although experts do not rule out the possibility that the debris could likely land in an ocean or the wilderness, scientists say the risk of it killing anyone after it re-enters the planet's atmosphere is small but not impossible.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Friday said its descent "common international practice. The probability of causing harm to aviation activities or activities on the ground are extremely low," suggesting that it would burn up on re-entry calling.

Don Pollacco, a physics professor at England's University of Warwick, who tracks space debris, added that "This is like playing the lottery. You have got a big lump of metal in space that's in a declining orbit because it's rubbing up against the atmosphere."

"It will hit the atmosphere, bounce around a bit and it's correct to say most of the planet is covered by water, so that's where it will likely land," he added. "But there's a chance it won't."

But Jonathan McDowell, Astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University, quoted by UK Guardian, said "It's potentially not good. Last time they launched a Long March 5B rocket they ended up with big long rods of metal flying through the sky and damaging several buildings in the Ivory Coast," he said.

"Most of it burned up, but there were these enormous pieces of metal that hit the ground. We are very lucky no one was hurt."

However, the US on Thursday, according to the BBC, said it currently had no plans to shoot it down.

"We're hopeful that it will land in a place where it won't harm anyone," US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. "Hopefully in the ocean, or someplace like that."

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