Pentagon: No Plan to Shoot down Unguided Chinese Rocket, Hopefully It Won’t Hit Anybody
By Staff, Agencies
The head of the Pentagon Lloyd Austin confirmed that “While the US military is capable of a lot of things, they are not planning to shoot down debris from the Chinese rocket, which is hurtling back to Earth in an uncontrolled reentry.”
Asked on Thursday about the unguided Long March 5B rocket parts careening toward the planet at around 15,000 miles per hour, the War secretary said the latest estimates suggest it will crash-land sometime on Friday or Saturday, but noted there would be no attempt to blast it out of the sky.
“At this point, we don’t have a plan to shoot the rocket down. We’re hopeful it’ll land in a place where it won’t harm anyone – hopefully in the ocean or someplace like that,” Austin said, also taking a thinly veiled jab at Beijing over the incident.
The Pentagon initially said it was tracking the rocket stage earlier this week, with the 18th Space Control Squadron of the US Space Force releasing updates on its flight path on a special website. The exact trajectory of the 22-ton craft won’t be known until just a few hours before it crashes down, however.
Amid that uncertainty, Russia’s space agency Roscosmos released a map showing possible places of impact earlier on Thursday, which covered a large part of the US – including Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC – as well as Latin America, Africa, Australia and South Asia. Some components of the rocket booster are expected to disintegrate in the atmosphere, but “individual non-combustible structural elements can reach the Earth’s surface,” the agency added.