Rafi Letzter

A 19.6-ton (17,800 kilograms) Chinese rocket slammed into our planet today (May 11).

The bulky Long March 5B became the heaviest orbiting thing to fall uncontrolled to Earth in nearly three decades, according to Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astrophysicist and orbital object tracker. The last time a heavier object had an uncontrolled entry was 1991, when the 43-ton (39,000 kg) Salyut-7 Soviet space station reentered the atmosphere over Argentina, McDowell wrote on Twitter. (Another contender he mentioned: the 2003 shuttle Columbia disaster, though that reentry did not become uncontrolled until the space shuttle was already in the atmosphere over Texas.)

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