China's rocket debris disintegrates over Indian Ocean, lands near Maldives
Remnants of China's largest rocket, the Long March, which was launched last week, re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on Sunday morning and disintegrated over the Indian Ocean, the country's state-sponsored media network, the China Central Television (CCTV), reported on Sunday, citing the China Manned Space Engineering Office. According to the coordinates provided by Chinese officials of the rocket's point of impact, the debris now lies west of the Maldives archipelago.
Space-Track, a space monitoring agency that uses US military data, also confirmed that the fact that the rocket is now down. "Everyone else following the #LongMarch5B re-entry can relax. The rocket is down. You can see all relevant information and updates here on Twitter/Facebook, so there is no need to keep visiting the space-track dot org website," posted Space-Track on Twitter.
There had been much speculation over where the large 18-tonne segment of the Chinese rocket would come down, leading to a renewed panic over possible damage and casualties amid the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. However, most experts had predicted that any loose debris would almost certainly have to come down to the ocean, given the fact that almost 70% of the planet is covered by water. Chinese state media has now laid to rest all such speculations and provided the landing coordinates for rocket debris. It said that a major chunk of it was destroyed on re-entry into the atmosphere.
"After monitoring and analysis, at 10:24 (0224 GMT) on May 9, 2021, the last-stage wreckage of the Long March 5B Yao-2 launch vehicle has re-entered the atmosphere, and the landing area is at 72.47° east longitude and 2.65° north latitude," news agency AFP cited CCTV as saying, providing coordinates for a point in the Indian Ocean.
Earlier on Friday, the Chinese foreign ministry had said that most of the debris of the Chinese rocket will burn on re-entry and is highly unlikely to cause any harm after the US military said that what it called an uncontrolled re-entry was being tracked by US Space Command.