Military experts in the US predict the body of the Long March 5B rocket will fall to Earth’s surface around Saturday or Sunday, but it is difficult to predict where and when the rocket will land.
But Beijing on Friday (7/5/2021) underestimated it.
“The probability of causing damage to aviation activities or (to people and activities) on the ground is very low,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.
“Most of the components will be destroyed when they re-enter the atmosphere,” he was quoted as saying AFP. “The authorities will inform the public of the situation in a timely manner.”
China has poured billions of dollars into space exploration in a bid to reflect its rising global status and growing technological power, following in the extra-terrestrial footsteps of the US, Russia and Europe.
The launch of the first module of the “Heavenly Palace” space station in April was a milestone in Beijing’s ambitious plan to establish a permanent human presence in space.
China also said in March that it plans to build a separate lunar space station with Russia.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday the US military had no plans to shoot down the Chinese rocket.
“We have the capability to do a lot of things, but we have no plans to stop it,” Austin told reporters.
He stated that China was negligent in letting the rocket body fall from orbit. In his opinion, those in the “outer space domain” must “operate in a safe and discreet mode.”