Chinese rocket segment lands near Maldives
The coordinates given by the Chinese Space Agency show the rocket parts landing some 45 kilometres from the nearest island, Kudahuvadhoo, Maldives.
A large segment of a Chinese rocket re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and disintegrated over the Indian Ocean on Sunday, the national space agency said, following fevered speculation over where the 18-tonne object would come down
Officials in Beijing had said there was little risk from the freefalling segment of the Long March-5B rocket, which had launched the first module of China's new space station into Earth orbit on April 29.
"After monitoring and analysis, at 10.24 am on May 9, 2021, the last-stage wreckage of the Long March 5B Yao-2 launch vehicle has reentered the atmosphere," the China Manned Space Engineering Office said in a statement, providing coordinates for a point in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives.
It added that most of the segment disintegrated and was destroyed during re-entry.
Monitoring service Space-Track, which uses US military data, also confirmed the re-entry.
"Everyone else following the #LongMarch5B re-entry can relax. The rocket is down," it tweeted.
The segment's descent matched predictions by some experts that any debris would have splashed down into the ocean, given that 70 percent of the planet is covered by water.
But the uncontrolled re-entry of such a large object had sparked concerns about possible damage and casualties, despite there being a low statistical chance. ■