An out-of-control Chinese rocket that was expected to land on Earth anytime this weekend with everyone clueless about the time or place of its landing has landed in Indian Ocean today.
The remnants of the rocket, called Long March 5B, plummeted back to Earth at 10:24am Beijing time (5:24am EAT), plunging into the Indian ocean.
“The coordinates put the point of impact in the ocean somewhere southwest of India and Sri Lanka. Most of the debris was burnt up in the atmosphere,” China Manned Space Engineering Office said in a statement.
NASA slams China for irresponsible rocket activities
Although there was a slight chance that it might have struck things or hurt someone, NASA has slammed China for lack of transparency over Long March 5B’s re-entry into Earth.
NASA says that spacefaring nations had a duty to minimise the risks to people and property on Earth.
“It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson who added, ““It is critical that China and all spacefaring nations and commercial entities act responsibly and transparently in space to ensure the safety, stability, security, and long-term sustainability of outer space activities.”
The humongous Long March 5B was launched from Wenchang Space Launch Centre on 29 April to carry Tianhe – the first module of China’s future space station – into orbit.
The rocket was expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere through places between 41.5 degrees north latitude and 41.5 degrees south latitude. United States capital city, New York falls under that bracket.
China’s foreign minister said that the possibility of the rocket causing harm on the ground is extremely low. The Chinese authorities had predicted that some of the rocket’s parts will be destroyed as it lands.
China is notorious for letting parts of its space equipment tumble to earth as they may. Rockets from their main launch center (Xichang Satellite Launch Center) have fallen in rural areas in the past causing damage.
Last year, parts of the first Long March 5B rocket landed in Ivory Coast. USA Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin disputed rumours that the USA had plans to shoot it down.