Coordinates given by state media, citing the Chinese Bureau of Manned Space Engineering, place the point of impact in the ocean, west of the Maldives.
Debris from the 5B Long March has made some people look suspiciously skyward shortly after taking off from the Chinese island of Hainan on April 29, but China’s Manned Space Engineering Bureau said most of the debris had been burnt in the atmosphere.
State media reported that parts of the rocket re-entered the atmosphere at 10:24 a.m. Beijing time (2:24 a.m. GMT) and landed at a location whose coordinates are 72.47 degrees east longitude. and 2.65 degrees north latitude.
The Long March launched last week was the second deployment of the 5B variant since its maiden flight in May 2020.
Last year, parts of the first Long March 5B fell on Côte d’Ivoire, damaging several buildings. No injuries were reported.
With most of the Earth’s surface covered in water, the chances of populated areas being affected were low and the likelihood of injury even lower, experts said.
But uncertainty over the rocket’s orbital disintegration and China’s inability to issue stronger assurances as re-entry approaches have fueled anxiety.
It is one of the largest space debris to return to Earth, with 18 tons.
On Friday, the aerospace company said its Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies (CORDS) said its latest “informed prediction” of the rocket’s reentry location was given near the North Island of Nova Scotia. -Zeeland.
However, he noted that re-entry was possible anywhere along paths covering large swathes of the globe.
The newsletter is sent early every morning, at noon and every evening.
Never miss a moment by signing up for our newsletter here.
In a blog post, the aerospace company said: “The re-entry of the 5B long march is unusual because during launch, the first stage of the rocket reached its orbital speed instead of falling into the range as it is. common practice.
“The empty rocket body is now in an elliptical orbit around Earth where it is dragged into an uncontrolled reentry. “
Harvard-based astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell previously told Reuters there was a chance that pieces of the rocket would fall above the earth, possibly in a populated area.
Debris from Chinese rocket launches is not uncommon in China.
In late April, authorities in Shiyan City, Hubei Province, sent a notice to residents of the surrounding county to prepare for the evacuation, as some parts were to land in the area.
The last Long March rocket launched on April 29 was the second deployment of the 5B variant since its maiden flight in May of last year.
The empty-core stage has been losing altitude since last week.
But the speed of its orbital decay remains uncertain due to unpredictable atmospheric variables.
The Long March 5 rocket family has been an integral part of China’s short-term space ambitions – from delivering the modules and crew of its planned space station to launching exploratory probes to the Moon and even Mars.
The main stage of the first Long March 5B that returned to Earth last year weighed nearly 20 tons, overtaken only by debris from the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003, from the Soviet Union’s Salyut 7 space station in 1991 and the NASA Skylab in 1979.