Beijing: The Chinese Long March 5B Rocket, 100 feet tall and weighing 22 metric tonnes, has re-entered the Earth on Sunday, coming down over the Indian Ocean near the Maldives.
The US Space Command that was tracking the rocket informed that the “out-of-control” Chinese Long March 5B rocket “re-entered over the Arabian Peninsula at approximately 10:15 p.m. EDT (around 7.45 am India time on Sunday).”
The agency’s official Twitter account tweeted: “US Space Com can confirm Chinese Long March 5B re-entered over the Arabian Peninsula at approximately 10:15 pm EDT on May 8. It is unknown if the debris impacted land or water.”
The Long March 5B rocket that launched the first chunk of Beijing’s new space station could not be maneuvered or controlled as friction caused by the rocket rubbing against air at the top of the atmosphere made it lose its altitude.
Debris from a large Chinese rocket landed in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives early Sunday morning, China’s space administration announced. It stated that most of the debris had burned up on re-entry.
Tiangong-1, China’s first prototype space station launched in 2011, was another massive object that uncontrollably reentered in 2018 but mostly broke up in the atmosphere over the South Pacific Ocean.
Meanwhile, several photos and videos of the incident are being posted on social media. Here is a video claimed to be of the debris falling down, ABP News could not verify its authenticity.
In an earlier statement, the US Space Command had said that “its exact entry point into the Earth’s atmosphere cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its reentry”.
There were concerns raised over the rocket’s uncontrolled re-entry as there was a slight risk of the debris crashing down in an inhabited area and causing damage.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin had said on Friday that most debris from the large Chinese rocket, that plunged back through the atmosphere this weekend as expected, will be burned up upon re-entry and is highly unlikely to cause any harm.
Speaking in Beijing, he had stated that China was closely following the rocket’s re-entry into the atmosphere and most of its components would be burned up upon re-entry.
“The probability of this process causing harm on the ground is extremely low,” he said as quoted by Reuters.
(With inputs from agencies)