Russian Rocket Part Careening Back Down to Earth After Failed Launch

A Russian rocket booster is making its re-entry through the atmosphere, and officials aren't sure where it will hit.

The full-size mock up that was supposed to be used to test a new rocket stage successfully separated from the carrier rocket after it was launched last month.

The booster's engines failed, preventing it from adjusting its path.

The Angara-A5 heavy-lift rocket was used in the third test flight.

Russia's space agency has yet to acknowledge the re-entry. The agency's director general claimed in a cryptic message that everything is "operating normally" and that "armed security for key facilities of the [Baikonur] cosmodrome has been strengthened."

It is not clear whether the message is related to the re-entry of Persei.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and expert space tracker, said that the sky is likely to see a comet later this afternoon.

The booster will land in the Pacific Ocean if everything goes well.

I do not consider this object to be a significant risk. Some debris may reach the ground, but not much, if an object with a dry mass of four tons is reentered.

It is not the first time rocket parts have plummeted back down to Earth.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson called out China for failing to meet responsible standards for their space debris after they allowed a Long March 5B rocket to make a re-entry last year.

With the advent of re-usable rocket stages such as the one used by SpaceX, countries are facing pressure to stop the practice of allowing boosters to fall unpredictably.

Russian rocket part from failed launch plummets back toward Earth.

More on Russian rockets. It is a seat for a astronomer.

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