Imminent Return of China Rocket Debris Forces Precautionary Airspace Closure

Image Credit: Aerospace Corporation

LONDON – As a precautionary measure, France has decided to close its airspace south of Corsica, due to the impending re-entry of debris from a Chinese rocket. Debris from the discarded rocket body – approximately the size of a ten-storey building – is predicted to re-enter the atmosphere today, 4 November at 1120UTC +/- 3 hours.

The French civil aviation regulator, the Directorate General for Civil Aviation (Direction générale de l’aviation civile) has just issued a post stating:

“Due to the re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere of space debris from a Chinese rocket, France has decided to close its airspace located south of Corsica from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.”

Proposed French airspace closures now active. Source: Direction générale de l’aviation civile

Long March 5B rocket

The airspace alert is associated with a rocket launch by China on Monday. A Long March 5B rocket was launched to take aloft pieces of China’s Tiangong space station. The launch carried the third and final piece of the space station into orbit – the Mengtian laboratory cabin module.

And again, as per previous launches, the Long March 5B’s central core, weighing some 23 metric tons, and about the size of a ten-storey building will return to Earth in an uncontrolled manoeuvre which is set to scattering a large debris field of heavy remnants.

According to The Aerospace Corporation, the latest prediction for the re-entry of the Chinese rocket body is now 04 Nov 2022 11:20 UTC ± 3 hours.  

Source: Aerospace Corporation

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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