* By Wharrysson Lacerda and Layse Ventura

After generating huge expectations, the wreckage of the Chinese Long March 5B rocket ended up falling into the Indian Ocean, in a region relatively close to the Maldives Islands, fortunately, without causing any incident. From start, it was not known to say where that would be it, since the rocket has been out of control since it completed its mission to put the first spacial station Chinese company Tiangong, at the end of April.


The fate of the rocket caused curiosity and speculation for days among astronomers, observers and many on the internet. Uncertainty has even led people to follow live broadcast of the fall of Long March 5B on YouTube.

The remains of the rocket were transformed into a trail of light that could be seen by several people from Oman and also from other locations in the Middle East, around 23:30 pm, Brasília time, this Saturday, May 8.

During your downward trajectory, the device made an elliptical orbit, going from 375 km of altitude at the most distant point to 170 km at the closest point with the ground. Naturally, the friction with the atmosphere caused him to lose energy each time he approached the ground.

It is important to remember that small objects are usually incinerated by the heat generated by friction with the atmosphere. However, the Chinese rocket's debris was not exactly small, as it was 33 meters long, 5 meters in diameter and about 21 tons of mass.

The fact in favor of the Chinese was that 70% of the surface of our planet is covered by oceans. However, there was still a remote chance that the spacecraft would fall to the ground - and even in Brazil, according to Marcelo Zurita's analysis for the Olhar Digital.

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What rocket is this?

The Long March 5B took the core of the future Chinese station Tiangong into space. With 16,6 meters in length and 4,2 meters in diameter, the laboratory will have the capacity to receive three crew members.

In total, there will be 11 missions to build Tiangong by 2022. There will be four manned trips, four cargo and the launch of three modules. When completed, the station will have a useful life of 10 years - which can reach 15 years with updates.

Fight of the Titans

Even with international attention, scientists from the beginning had warned that the risk of land-based incidents was low. In any case, China received criticism for the way it handled the rocket.

Officials linked to NASA and also to the European Agency said that the Chinese did not prepare adequately for the re-entry of such large-scale equipment. Among these measures, there would be the programmed deceleration of the rocket, so that its course could be controlled and directed to specific areas of the planet, which would guarantee that no debris would run the risk of reaching inhabited areas. Instead, the Chinese rocket has reentered the Earth's atmosphere without control, which is considered an unnecessary risky maneuver by space scientists and technicians.

Long March 5B rocket launches Tianhe-1, first module of the Chinese space station Tiangong
Long March 5B was launched as part of the construction of Tianhe, the Chinese space station

During the week, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) went so far as to say that he would not bring down the wreckage. However, the country's Space Command continued to monitor the Long March 5B route. Although the chance of danger was minimal, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin criticized the lack of a requirement "to operate safely and carefully in space".

In the Chinese view, however, the story is quite different. In recent weeks, the Beijing government has reacted strongly to criticism. It was even left to Elon Musk's company. Beijing called SpaceX “Space Junk,” literally, and claimed to be the victim of a defamation campaign by the American press.

During the week, the Chinese newspaper Global Times he had said that the concern about falling debris would be overkill. Sources heard by the publication said there was no reason to panic. O Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China stressed that the likelihood of Long March 5B causing great damage when it entered the Earth's atmosphere was "extremely low".

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