The Chinese rocket falling to Earth uncontrolled is one of 11 similar missions scheduled over the next 2 years

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china space station launch Long March-5B Y2 rocket
The Long March-5B Y2 rocket, carrying the core module of China's space station at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in China on April 23. cnsphoto/Reuters

The Chinese rocket that is falling back to Earth, causing some to worry that debris could fall in populated areas, is one of 11 launches China is planning to build a new space station.

Two of the upcoming launches plan to use the Long-March 5 rocket, according to the state-owned China Global Television Network (CGTN).

That is the same type of rocket as the one due to re-entered the atmosphere this weekend.

Long March-5B rockets are among the biggest rockets designed to reach orbit. They can carry a payload of up to 27 tons and stand at about 180 ft high and 16 ft wide, CGTN reported.

These are planned to carry modules of the space station Tiangong (heavenly palace), which aims to be complete by the end of 2022.

Here are the 11 launches:

  • The rocket descending now: A Long March-5B which was launched April 29 and successfully delivered the first space station module.

  • 2 more Long March-5B launches carrying more space station parts.

  • 8 further launches using smaller Long March-7 and Long March-2F rockets. Four will carry cargo and four will carry astronauts, CGTN reported.

The whole mission aims to be complete by 2023.

A previous first Long March-5B rocket was launched in 2020.

It is thought that it fell back to Earth uncontrolled, although China's space agency neither confirmed nor denied this, Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell told The Verge in 2020.

It re-entered the atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean, according to the US military's 18th Space Control Squadron, which tracks space junk.

According to social media reports, large metal objects fell over two villages in the Ivory Coast damaging buildings around the time of re-entry of the rocket, Forbes reported in 2020.

Responding to the current rocket descent, China denied that the process is dangerous. A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the debris has a "very low probability of causing harm."

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