China Long March 5B Crashing Someplace on the Weekend

The 22 ton Long March 5B rocket that placed China’s Space station in orbit is crashing someplace this weekend. It will probably be May 8-10. It will circle the world 30 times in two days. The location of where the debris will hit will not be known until moments before it is actually crashing.

Before the CZ-5B started flying there were NO “by design” uncontrolled reentries above 10 tonnes since 1990. DOS-6 (Salyut-7), STS-107 and Fobos-Grunt were all failures.

SOURCES – Jonathan McDowell
Written By Brian Wang,

15 thoughts on “China Long March 5B Crashing Someplace on the Weekend”

  1. This shows the power of hydrogen. Even with a payload, the core went into orbit like the old Atlas SCORE did with only a tape recorder. This is why China should build Energia Buran…but with the hydrogen SLS like core made from the start to be a wet workshop module…forward cargo carriers like the shuttle ET was to have. The large size means side mount spaceplanes can have wide wingspans…something like OK-92 with jets. Scale up so the orbiter can have a metal skin maybe

  2. I still haven't seen it clearly stated, so the question remains;

    Was the upper stage used designed for controlled deorbit, but due to failure or by choice (full propellant expenditure to launch such a heavy payload to the absolute highest altitude to given them margin before the next module flight) it is coming down uncontrolled , or is the upper stage not designed for controlled deorbit?

    I'm saying in the context of whether this upper stage was a new design or the same as the previous CZ-5B launch. Allegedly it's a derivative of the CZ-3B upper stage, but somehow embiggened and simplified.

    SpaceX recently had a rare uncontrolled F9 second stage reentry, but they usually do controlled deorbits by burning the remaining propellant.

  3. Currently estimating reentry in about 38 hours, plus or minus about 12.

    I see it's still expected to pass overhead at about 1AM and 6 AM Saturday morning, so I might get to see it; Miracle of miracles, it's not supposed to be overcast here, like it has been for every major meteor storm in the last decade.

  4. When Skylab fell they threw parties.
    People showed up with baseball gloves and butterfly nets.

  5. It regularly passes over most of the population of the Earth, it's a pretty inclined orbit.

    The odds are still that it won't hit anybody, the majority of the orbital track is over water, of course, and the land is hardly wall to wall people. But it is a useful reminder that the CCP just doesn't care.

  6. Looking at the path from Brett's link below – it appears that its orbit regularly passes over Washington DC.

  7. Without having the least idea of what the potential footprint is, it occurs to me this could play really badly for them if it falls on something like Mecca, the Taj Mahal, Area 51, Big Ben, Christ in the Andes, etc.

    They certainly can't claim it was an accident, any more than you could declare it was an accident if you were lobbing lawn darts over your neighbor's backyard and someone got hit.

  8. Looks like it might be visible from here about 6AM Saturday morning. I'll have to keep track of it, might be able to spot it.

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