02:42 GMT18 May 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The core stage of China's Long March 5B (Chang Zheng 5B, or CZ-5B) rocket that launched with the first module for the country’s orbital station last month is expected to crash down in the Pacific Ocean on 8-9 May, according to predictions from the US Air Force.

    The core stage of the CZ-5B spacecraft is expected to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere between 01:11 GMT on 8 May and 19:11 GMT on 9 May, over the southern part of the Pacific Ocean not far from New Zealand, the estimates published by Space-Track.org show.

    The Guardian previously cited an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Centre at Harvard University as saying that the rocket parts could potentially land on an inhabited area ranging from as far north as New York, Madrid, and Beijing and as far south as Chile and New Zealand. The scientist, however, similarly expected the rocket parts to fall into the sea, given that most of our planet is covered by oceans.

    China launched the Long March 5B carrier rocket with the main module (Tianhe, or "Harmony of the Heavens") for the nation's future orbital station at the end of April. Tianhe will be the control hub for the Tiangong (or "Heavenly Palace") orbital station.

    China expects to finish assembling its first space station in lower Earth orbit by 2022. The country has planned several missions, both cargo ship and crewed ones, across 2021 and 2022 to complete the complex and plans to officially launch the space station in 2023.

    Pacific Ocean, debris, rocket, China
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