The remnants of China’s largest rocket have plummeted back to Earth, plunging into the Indian ocean near the Maldives, according to Chinese state media, ending days of speculation over where the debris would hit.
Most of the debris burned up in the atmosphere, it reported, citing the Chinese Manned Space Engineering office.
Parts of the 30-metre core of the Long March 5B rocket re-entered the atmosphere at 10.24am Beijing time (2.24am GMT) and landed at a location with the coordinates of longitude 72.47 degrees east and latitude 2.65 degrees north, state media cited the office as saying.
Nasa was critical of China’s lack of transparency over the rocket’s re-entry, saying spacefaring nations had a duty to minimise the risks to people and property on Earth.
“It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris,” said Nasa administrator Bill Nelson, a former senator and astronaut who was picked for the role in March.
The US Space command confirmed the re-entry into the atmosphere of the rocket over the Arabian peninsula, but said it was unknown if the debris had hit land or water.
NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson released the following statement Saturday regarding debris from the Chinese Long March 5B rocket: “Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations. It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris.“