The Space Surveillance Operations Center (COVE) of the Air Force is monitoring the trajectory of the central nucleus of the Chinese Long March 5B rocket, also known as CZ-5B.
As highlighted by the Ministry of Defense, the rocket was launched on April 29, and the CZ-5B module reentry sometime between Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th of May. Specifically, it is a cylindrical body 31 meters long and 5 meters in diameter, with a mass of around 20 tons.
Defense has explained that COVE, “as military center in charge of ensuring space surveillance“is monitoring the object” with updated trajectory data and predictions of reentry into the atmosphere from various sources “to which the Air Force has access, as well as observations obtained from the space surveillance radar (S3TSR) located in the Morón air base and other sensors that are part of the network of the European consortium EU-SST, (European Union Space Survelliance and Tracking), in which Spain participates through the S3TOC (Spanish Space Survelliance and Tracking Operations Center).
In this sense, the Air Force has indicated that, once the object descends below about 80 km in height, friction with the highest layers of the atmosphere will cause “most of the launcher to disintegrate during reentry, being alone a small part of the structure the one that could get to impact on the terrestrial surface “.
“The COVE will carry out a specific follow-up until time of reentry, checking if the event may affect national territory in order to provide timely knowledge of the situation through the established operating channels, “he concluded.