Out of control Chinese rocket is due to crash on Earth from space, causing airports to close

Dominic Smithers

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Out of control Chinese rocket is due to crash on Earth from space, causing airports to close

Featured Image Credit: REUTERS/Alamy/Cynthia Lee/Alamy

A number of airports in Spain have closed their airspace due to an 'out of control' rocket set to crash to Earth.

The 25-ton rocket launched on Monday (31 October), travelling to the Tiangong space station to deliver the Mengtian laboratory cabin module.

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It is due to re-enter Earth's atmosphere tomorrow (5 November), with flights around Barcelona, Reus, Tarragona and Ibiza already grounded as the region prepares itself.

According to local reports, the measure is expected to last around 40 minutes, though there are concerns that it could last several hours in places like Ibiza.

Some passengers had already boarded their flights this morning when they were informed of the closure.

Discussing the measure, spokesman for Catalonia’s Civil Protection Agency said: "Due to the risk associated with the passage of the CZ-5B space object crossing Spanish airspace, flights have been completely restricted from 9.38 am to 10.18 am in Catalonia and other communities.

"Airports and other organisations have already been informed."

Flights have been grounded at Barcelona airport. Credit: Loop Images Ltd/Alamy
Flights have been grounded at Barcelona airport. Credit: Loop Images Ltd/Alamy

A tweet from Spanish air traffic controllers also read: "Eurocontrol has informed us about the non-controlled re-entry of a Chinese rocket into the Earth’s atmosphere.

"Rate Zero has been established for certain parts of Spanish airspace and that could affect air traffic by way of delays and diversions."

However, despite fears of being struck by falling debris, experts believe that this is highly unlikely.

Ted Muelhaupt is a consultant for research group the Aerospace Corporation.

He told the New York Times: "You’ve got far better odds of winning the lottery. The risk to an individual is six per 10 trillion. That’s a really small number."

According to his predictions, there is a 99.5 percent chance that all eight billion people living on planet Earth will be absolutely fine following the landing.

This is the fourth time China has used an enormous launcher during its missions, which has gone on to drop debris.

And it comes after a rocket booster crashed into the far side of the Moon after floating around in space for at least seven years.

A rocket crashed into the Moon earlier this year. Credit: NASA
A rocket crashed into the Moon earlier this year. Credit: NASA

The impact left two huge craters on the Moon when it landed on 4 March.

According to experts, over 40 rockets have crashed into the Moon, but NASA confirmed that none had ever caused a double crater impact.

In a statement, the space agency said: "The double crater was unexpected and may indicate that the rocket body had large masses at each end.

"Typically a spent rocket has mass concentrated at the motor end; the rest of the rocket stage mainly consists of an empty fuel tank."

Topics: News, Science, Technology, Space

Dominic Smithers
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