back to article Chinese booster rocket tumbles back to Earth: 'Non-zero' chance of hitting populated area

Space boffins are watching the skies for a 23 metric ton Chinese rocket booster that is expected to crash back to Earth. The debris measures 53.6 meters in length and is a remnant of a mission earlier this week to deliver the Wentian laboratory module to China's Tiangong space station. Wentian itself is an exciting addition to …

  1. brainwrong

    What's the Orbit, Bob?

    You missed out the most important piece of information, namely its orbital inclination.

    It's apparently 41 degrees, so I'm safe.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: What's the Orbit, Bob?

      That is clearly illustrated by the graphic in the tweet.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: What's the Orbit, Bob?

        What tweet? I see no tweet (and no I'm not clicking on links to the cesspit)

        1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Re: What's the Orbit, Bob?

          There's a tweet in the story illustrating potential re-entry.

          It links to here.


        2. stiine Silver badge

          Re: What's the Orbit, Bob?

          You just need to have javascript disabled, and when you you stop at the page, examine it and copy the twitter link from there. If you won't actully open a twitter URL, then simply use your favorite search engine and find it that way.

          I would, however, prefer that the links in the tweet were unobfsucated in the article, just as a big F.U. to

        3. Stoneshop

          Re: What's the Orbit, Bob?

          I see two links, one out in the open as a link, the other one displaying when moused over.

          UMatrix blocks by default.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: What's the Orbit, Bob?

      Well, it's easily Google-able, if you care that much, but fine: I've added it to the story.


    3. Stork Silver badge

      Re: What's the Orbit, Bob?

      I’m not. If the junk starts a forest fire, can you do the Chinese for arson?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's the Orbit, Bob?

        > can you do the Chinese for arson?

        Well we do Chinese some nights when we don't want to cook.

  2. heyrick Silver badge

    If it should land on anybody's head...

    ...hold the Chinese leadership accountable and demand their extradition to face trial for homicide. Of course it won't work, but the publicity and hassle might make them think twice about pulling this sort of shit in the future.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Doesn't that track cover most of China? We can hope for some karma...

      1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

        It'll be the middle of Australia, it always is. There some kind of magnetic attraction* about the place.

        *Yes I know there's not much ferrous material in a rocket.

    3. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: might make them think twice about pulling this sort of shit in the future

      There's only a non-zero chance of them thinking twice if the debris lands on someone / something important in China. The rest of the Chinese populous, indeed of the planet, is SOL.

      1. Fursty Ferret

        Re: might make them think twice about pulling this sort of shit in the future

        China's been dumping rocket parts on its citizens for many years. This is nothing new - just the fact that it might land *outside* of the country.

        1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          Re: might make them think twice about pulling this sort of shit in the future

          We forget. China simply does not care about dropping stuff on people. At home - no issue. Elsewhere, well, the noise will die down eventually.

          So NASA huffing and puffing is simply Westerners being fussy as usual.

  3. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    I would say ....

    .... please let it be Gosport .... it couldn't help but improve the place. But unfortunately they're nearly 51 degrees North!

    1. WhereAmI?

      Re: I would say ....

      Full agreement from here!

      1. TimMaher Silver badge

        Re: “here”

        Where are you?

        1. MyffyW Silver badge

          Re: “here”

          Just here. No the other way, yes, that's right, next to whatchamacallit ... thud

    2. genghis_uk

      Re: I would say ....

      If if could clip a bit off Fareham too that would be a bonus!

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: I would say ....

      Hmmmm gosport or Basingstoke... gosport or Basingstoke.... the choices .. the choices...

      Sorry... much as I hate gosport, Basingstoke gets it by a whisker.


      Hint for our non-UK readers.... Basingstoke is a carbon copy of Milton Keynes.. only without the heart and soul of Milton Keynes.....

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: I would say ....

        Bit hard to pinch MK's heart and soul, it's not got one either...

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: I would say ....

        Umm. Couple of things. I know both Basingstoke and Milton Keynes quite well, and they are streets apart!

        Firstly, Basingstoke is older. Most of the new town was built in the 1960's. Milton Keynes is a couple of decades newer, so if they were actually clones, Milton Keynes would be a copy of Basingstoke, but read on.

        Secondly, Basingstoke is built as a series of rings, with inner and outer ring roads, and the town originally built in radial segments. Milton Keynes is built on a grid system, with north-south and east-west roads.

        Thirdly, when Basingstoke was built, many buildings went up. whereas Milton Keynes was built to be very low profile (OK, there have been some taller buildings built more recently).

        Lastly, Basingstoke was built around an older village as a London relocation town (think slum clearance), with a large number of the houses built as council houses, so if you find some Basingstoke 'locals' (not the original Hampshire residents, but those who moved in in the '60s and '70s), you will find various London dialects being very prevalent. Milton Keynes was a true green field 'New Town' with people moving there from all over the country because of jobs, and they ended up buying their houses, and it is thus much more cosmopolitan.

        Since it was built, Basingstoke has got worse, with many of the green spaces that were originally left to make life a bit more palatable being filled in by new buildings, although they did tunnel under or fly over most of the roundabouts. Milton Keynes is actually quite pleasant in comparison.

        1. Loyal Commenter

          Re: I would say ....

          Milton Keynes was also (nominally) built around the villages of Bletchley and Newport Pagnell

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: I would say ....

            That's a very nominal point. Neither Bletchley nor Newport Pagnell were immediatly subsumed into Milton Keynes. It was more properly built on land between Bletchley and Newport Pagnell, and has now grown out to meet them.

            Basingstoke old town (not Old Basing) has now almost completely disappeared under the new(er) shopping centres. When I first visited it in the late 1960's (before they had finished building the original pedestrianized shopping centre (it always stank of chlorine because the swiming pool was right under the middle of the shopping centre), there was still a number of older buildings. There may be one or two left on Wote Street and London Street, but I doubt there is a lot.

            Since the original shopping centre was built in the mid-1960s, the centre of Basingstoke has been re-developed at least twice, with the 'new' market square disappearing under Alders, which has itself long since disappeared.

            Although I lived in Basingstoke for six years in the mid 1990s, when I visited it a few years ago, I barely recognised the place, and it had not got better!

      3. ICL1900-G3

        Re: I would say ....

        A one-time property developer acquaintance told me proudly that he had redeveloped Basingstoke's shopping centre. I hope that's mentioned in his eulogy when the time comes.

  4. Flywheel
    Thumb Up

    Devo have covered this ...

    Space Junk

  5. Danny 2

    What, no nukes?

    Space debris isn't what it used to be. When Skylab fell from the sky we were warned even if it hit somewhere like Slough it could set off automated ICBMs and kill us all.


    Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!

    It isn't fit for humans now,

    There isn't grass to graze a cow.

    Swarm over, Death!

    Come, bombs and blow to smithereens

    Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,

    Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,

    Tinned minds, tinned breath.

    This was published just three years before Slough was bombed by the Nazis.Sixty bombs, two hundred and seventy dead. Betjeman, you were well out of order.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: What, no nukes?

      Betjeman was just using Slough as an example of how the countryside was being concreted over. Even he was embarrassed that the poem was taken literally, he didn't intend it to be. His daughter eventually made a full apology to the people of Slough.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: What, no nukes?

        Something along the lines of "I'm sorry you have to live in this godforsaken place"?

        1. stiine Silver badge

          Re: What, no nukes?

          Or bombing the rest of them?

      2. FIA Silver badge

        Re: What, no nukes?

        Betjeman was just using Slough as an example of how the countryside was being concreted over.

        It isn't though, something like 90% of the country isn't built on. A quick look at Google Earth will show you that.

        We're just obsessed with our green belts.

        Now, not saying we should concrete it all, but maybe the odd extra house here and there for the younguns might not be a bad idea.

        (I mean not in my back yard obviously...)

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: What, no nukes?

          Yeah. Same problem with people who object to new roads because the country is "already covered in too many of them". It isn't, if their width was shown on maps to actual scale they'd be almost invisible, so they get drawn not-to-scale as thick lines which gives a totally misleading idea of how much of the country they occupy.

          Still, Betjeman had a point. There are ways to build new stuff without acres of faceless square boxes of grey concrete.

        2. RegGuy1 Silver badge

          We're just obsessed with our green belts

          Well yes, of course. Once you've sold your parents home and can add that to the value of your own, then you can also afford to buy somewhere in the country.

          And once there you don't want scum putting up a building you can see from the front room. Hell no. Same goes for wind turbines. I mean, this is Ingerland, don't you know?

        3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

          Re: What, no nukes?

          > maybe the odd extra house here and there

          In my experience, those are absolutely fine. Even a few houses - 5 or 6 maybe. But developers want a minimum of 300 shitty houses to maximise profits and that's never popular with the locals.

          1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

            Re: What, no nukes?

            > Even a few houses - 5 or 6 maybe.

            then 5 or 6 more....repeat a few times and you have your 300 eventually

        4. Loyal Commenter

          Re: What, no nukes?

          It's worth noting that only 5% of the UK's land surface is given over to housing, whilst 2.5% is occupied by golf courses.

          It's often those who use the golf courses that object most vociferously to more housing.

          Also, vast areas of "undeveloped" countryside are also owned by a vanishingly small number of people. 4% of the country is taken over by grouse moors (which is an unnatural, managed landscape).

          Tell this to anyone who goes on about "are country being full," though, and they just blather, get redder in the face and start calling you a "woke snowflake" or something.

      3. Loyal Commenter

        Re: What, no nukes?

        Did she manage to slough it off?

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What, no nukes?

        Full apology? What for? It was just banter. Bunch of snowflakes.

    2. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

      Re: What, no nukes?

      "You don't solve town planning problems by dropping bombs all over the place."

      David Brent

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: What, no nukes?

        "You don't solve town planning problems by dropping bombs all over the place."
        True. You could miss Slough and hit somewhere much nicer instead. Which, in broad terms, is referring to somewhere other than Slough.

        I worked in Slough for a while, it's the only place that I came across fluorescent grey as a colour.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: What, no nukes?

          "I worked in Slough for a while, it's the only place that I came across fluorescent grey as a colour."

          That seems to be an ever growing popular colour for cars. I just started noticing them recently. Sort of battleship grey in a gloss that somehow manages to look matte!! The first one I noticed, I thought it was just the undercoat and it would be going back for the rest of the paint job.

          1. Jan 0 Silver badge

            Re:Fluorescent grey

            I call it SMIDSY grey.

            1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

              Re: Re:Fluorescent grey

              When I was a biker the best reply was along the lines of SMIDHY (Sorry Mate I Didn't Hit You!)

    3. Muscleguy

      Re: What, no nukes?

      I was at secondary school in Auckland NZ when skylab came down. At breaks the prefects were poncing about in silly helmets pointing toilet paper tube Binoculars at the sky. The chances of hitting the Auckland isthmus were vanishingly small but in orbital terms it came damn close.

      1. innominatus

        Re: What, no nukes?

        Time to re-brand and re-issue those Skylab Protective Helmets again? Can even be made in China...

        1. ICL1900-G3

          Re: What, no nukes?

          I'm sure the government has some pals who can help with that.

      2. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: What, no nukes?

        I'm a little bit younger than you, because I was at primary school just south of Auckland in 1979 but I can remember one kid's Mum getting all worried about Skylab falling on us.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    With luck, there is every chance that whatever returns to Earth will simply fall into the ocean. onto at least one of the team who decided this was acceptable.

  7. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

    To quote Tom Lehrer

    Don't say that he's hypocritical

    Say rather that he's apolitical

    "Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?

    That's not my department" say Wernher von Braun

    (the song ends with)

    You too may be a big hero

    Once you've learned to count backwards to zero

    "In German, oder Englisch, I know how to count down

    Und I'm learning Chinese!" says Wernher von Braun

    1. Loyal Commenter

      Re: To quote Tom Lehrer

      Followed up by a rousing round of "We'll all go together when we go"?

    2. Old Used Programmer

      Re: To quote Tom Lehrer

      von Braun sued Lehrer over that...and won.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: To quote Tom Lehrer

        It seemed unlikely to me that you could make a good case for defamation on the lyrics, especially in the U.S. where both men were living, so I looked for details on the case. Lehrer denies it. Several articles call it a false rumor. I'm not finding a single source that has any proof about it. I'm afraid you may have been given unreliable information.

  8. Loyal Commenter

    It's all very well deliberately de-orbiting space junk into the middle of the Pacific

    However, all that stuff drifting down into the depths over R'Lyeh is only going to give Cthulhu ideas.

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: It's all very well deliberately de-orbiting space junk into the middle of the Pacific

      Well I, for one, can't wait for he rise of .... oh fuck....

  9. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    It would have been fun to watch ... from a distance

    I had a pretty good view of a wayward Falcon 9 upper stage passing overhead. It landed a few hundred miles away.

  10. Robert Grant Silver badge

    "Chinese" booster rocket?

    Alright Trump.

  11. Bartholomew Bronze badge

    One can only hope.

    Now I do know that the odds of it hitting a specific individual are low, but it would be fantastic if it landed very close to Xi Jinping, ideally at or near Zhongnanhai. Now I'm not saying that it should kill them or anything like that, just that it should provide a close enough to death experience that they will fix this problem.

    EDIT: Looks like it will miss most of China

    1. Snowy Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: One can only hope.

      Thank you for the link, goes to a good web page that does not need a script to run to display all the information.

  12. John 104

    So because in the 70s we had less forethought to control the re-entry of orbiting bits we should excuse the Chinese today?

  13. Auntie Dix


    The problem with Booster-Drop Soup is that I am always hungry again an hour later.

  14. pcspeak

    It's Gonna Hit Australia

    I'm going with an earlier comment.

    Here's on that crashed earlier this month.


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