Ending anxious wait of millions of people around the world, Chinese state media said debris of Long March 5B rocket fell into Indian Ocean on Sunday morning after re-entering Earth's atmosphere. The rocket parts disintegrated over waters the remnants now lie scattered west of the Maldives archipelago, Chinese space agency said.
Space-Track, which reports data collected by US Space Command, confirmed the rocket was no longer in the orbit. "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," the agency said on Twitter.
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The Chinese space agency gave coordinates for a point in the Indian Ocean where the debris is believed to have fallen. "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 72.47Â° east longitude and 2.65Â° north latitude," China's state-owned TV network the China Central Television (CCTV) said.
More on Long March 5B Rocket
China launched Long March 5B rocket into Earth's orbit on Apr 29. The rocket was designed to take the Asian giant's first module of its space station, Tianhe, to the space. The main segment of the rocket, which fell back into Earth in an uncontrolled spiral, weighed around 18 tonnes.
Multi-stage rockets usually fall back before getting into Earth's orbit, and pose no risk of any debris getting into Earth's atmosphere. However, segments of Long March got into Earth's orbit, making it inevitable that they end up entering the atmosphere.
Earlier, the US military had predicted that the Chinese rocket parts would fall in in Turkmenistan in Central Asia. The debris fall was predicted to happen 7 pm Eastern Time on Saturday, or 4.30 am IST on Sunday.
There were also speculation that the US might shoot down the debris as it makes way into Earth. However, the military denied such speculation. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said military has no plans to shoot it down.