Debris from a Chinese rocket is expected to plunge through the earth’s atmosphere this weekend.
Scientists say it is unclear when and where exactly it will land — but they say it will most likely be in an ocean or the wilderness.
NBC News reports that there is a tiny chance that the scattered pieces of the rocket could hit Abuja, Beijing, New York, Los Angeles, Madrid, or Rio de Janeiro.
Scientists believe that the risk of it harming anyone after it re-enters the planet’s atmosphere is small but not impossible.
The Long March 5B rocket was launched on April 29 at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in China. It was used to launch the main module of the country’s first permanent space station that will host astronauts’ long term.
In a tweet on Friday, The Aerospace Corporation, a US nonprofit research firm, said its prediction for landing was eight hours on either side of 4:19 GMT time on Sunday.
It pinpointed an area near the north island of New Zealand as a possible re-entry point but said it could happen anywhere across large parts of the planet.
Our latest prediction for #LongMarch5B CZ-5B rocket body reentry is 09 May 2021 04:19 UTC ± 8 hours along the ground track shown here. Follow this page for updates: https://t.co/p2AU9zVEpA pic.twitter.com/rsE6yzcnHb
— The Aerospace Corporation (@AerospaceCorp) May 7, 2021
Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry, on Friday said: “China is following closely the upper stage’s re-entry into the atmosphere. To my knowledge, the upper stage of this rocket has been deactivated, which means that most of its parts will burn up upon reentry, making the likelihood of damage to aviation or ground facilities and activities extremely low.”
In 2020, debris from a Chinese rocket crashed into Ivory Coast, where it damaged several buildings.