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China rocket tracker: Where is it now?

DEBRIS from a Chinese rocket is expected to fall back to Earth in an uncontrolled re-entry this weekend.

But where is the rocket now? Here is everything you’ll need to know…

The rocket left China on April 29

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The rocket left China on April 29

Where is the Chinese rocket now?

The Long March 5B rocket has dropped into low Earth orbit and there is a high risk of it crashing back down.

The European Space Agency said on Thursday that it expects the re-entry to occur at 3:15am, UTC.

The agency claims that there is a window of 9 hours and 25 minutes – meaning it could happen either Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon.

Why did China launch a rocket?

The 21-ton booster launched part of China’s first space station last week.

The launch was the first of 11 missions to construct and provision the space station.

It will send up a three-person crew by the end of 2022.

The giant rocket was taking the first module of China's new space station
The giant rocket was taking the first module of China’s new space station

Is the Chinese rocket out of control?

The Chinese authorities lost the ability to control the re-entry of the rocket.

It has left scientists and experts attempting to pinpoint where the giant rocket could land.

What’s happened so far?

April 29

China launched the first of three elements for its station atop the Long March 5B rocket that is now being tracked.

May 6

Calculations of the 21-ton rocket suggest it will fall on May 8.

The US Space Command tracked debris from the spacecraft, which lifted off on May 29 carrying the first module of China’s new space station.

The rocket re-entering the atmosphere

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The rocket re-entering the atmosphereCredit: Gianluca Masi | Virtual Telescope

May 7

The US said it had no plans to shoot down the Chinese rocket plummeting to Earth.

“We have the capability to do a lot of things, but we don’t have a plan to shoot it down as we speak,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters.

The Pentagon experts expect the body of the rocket to fall sometime on Saturday or Sunday.

Figuring out exactly when and where it will crash is proving difficult.

“We’re hopeful that it will land in a place where it won’t harm anyone. Hopefully in the ocean, or someplace like that,” Austin said.

The returning rocket is pictured for the first time by Italy-based Virtual Telescope Project

Gianluca Masi, an astronomer who captured the image, explained to Metro: “The sun was just a few degrees below the horizon, so the sky was incredibly bright: these conditions made the imaging quite extreme, but our robotic telescope succeeded in capturing this huge debris.’

“This is another bright success, showing the amazing capabilities of our robotic facility in tracking these objects.”

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