Following the successful launch and orbital insertion of the first stage of their Tiangong space station, China’s Long March 5B rocket booster is about to befall the same fiery end that it’s predecessor did almost twelve months ago – a fiery return to Earth in a very uncontrolled manner.
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Last year a CZ-5B crossed over Los Angeles and New York before littering parts of Africa and crashing into the Atlantic Ocean, this time it’s so unpredictable that anywhere from New York to Wellington is in the firing line. And while the chances of any property damage or loss of life are remote, it cannot be discounted
Associate Professor Alice Gorman is an internationally recognised leader in space archaeology and wrote Dr Space Junk vs The Universe: Archaeology and the Future in 2019. She’ll speak about the impacts of space junk in our orbit, share ways that future launches to Low Earth Orbit can be more sustainable and what we should be doing now ahead of venturing back to the Moon and off to Mars.
Jonathan McDowell is an astronomer at Harvard University’s Center for Astrophysics and an avid space launch and activities commentator. He brings his wealth of knowledge to us to explain the mission that should be making the news, and also exactly what we know of Long March 5B, the booster.
Duncan Blake is Special Counsel – Space Law at the International Aerospace Law and Policy Group, he’ll talk to us about the literal impacts if this booster damages any property, the legal implications of this type of uncontrolled reentry and who pays for what when it comes to fender benders in space.
We’re still waiting for further narrowing of the reentry window, which is slated sometime between 11.00 Saturday and 05.00 Monday AEST. That will only happen as the atmospheric drag pulls the craft closer and closer to the ground. So stay across our Twitter feed to get the notification when we go live and also subscribe to our YouTube channel and turn on notifications.
This is the official watch page, with the audio podcast version slated for release on Monday.