Debris From Large Chinese Rocket Lands in Indian Ocean

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Image via Getty/STR

The Chinese rocket that was anticipated to fall to Earth, finally landed on early Sunday morning in the Indian Ocean, near the Maldives.

CNN reports that according to China’s space administration, a majority of the debris burned up as it re-entered the atmosphere. NASA administrator Bill Nelson denounced China for the rocket’s uncontrollable landing and said the country was “failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris.” Nelson continued, “Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations.”

Though unlikely, the booster was being tracked for days due to the possibility that debris could strike a populated area, and it was unclear, at first, if any had hit the Maldives.

China launched part of a new Chinese space station on April 29, with the 108-foot rocket—a Long March 5B—weighing almost 40,000 pounds. These boosters typically fall back to Earth when they’re ejected, but this one, in particular, followed the space station to its intended orbit. After the booster’s fuel ran out, it charged through space until Earth’s gravity brought it back down. People took to social media to report sightings of the debris in Israel and Oman.

However, there was no idea of knowing where or when the booster would land, with the European Space Agency forecasting it to fall anywhere from the Americas south of New York, to all of Africa and Australia, portions of Asia south of Japan, and Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece.

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