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China’s rocket debris disintegrates over Indian Ocean

New Delhi: Debris of China’s largest space rocket booster landed in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives on Sunday, with most of its remnants destroyed upon its uncontrolled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Long March-5B rocket, which had launched the first module of China’s new Tianhe space station into Earth orbit on April 29, re-entered the atmosphere at 10:24 am Beijing time (0224 GMT) and docked at a location with the coordinates at longitude 72.47 degrees east and latitude 2.65 degrees north.

The China Manned Space Engineering Office said in a statement said, “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 reentered the atmosphere.”

Chinese state media reported the bulk of its components was burnt up during re-entry into the atmosphere, citing the Chinese space agency.

Reinforcing the re-entry, monitoring service Space-Track, which uses US military data, tweeted: “Everyone else following the #LongMarch5B re-entry can relax. The rocket is down.”

Thoughts were widespread for the last few days on where the 18-tonne object would fall back. The uncontrolled re-entry of the rocket had also triggered anxieties about possible destruction and casualties.

The United States and European space specialists were among those tracing the trajectory of the rocket amid anxieties concerning where its remnants may make an impression.

Earlier, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had said that China had been neglectful in letting the rocket fall out of orbit. Nevertheless, Beijing had reduced apprehensions over the segment’s descent and declared that there is a very low risk of any damage.

“The probability of causing harm… on the ground is extremely low,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin was quoted as saying by AFP.


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