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Chinese rocket debris splashes down in Indian Ocean - initial reports

Chinese rocket debris splashes down in Indian Ocean - initial reports”

Remnants of China's biggest rocket landed in the Indian Ocean on Sunday, with the bulk of its components destroyed upon re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, according to Chinese state media, ending days of speculation over where the debris would hit.

Space experts continue to closely monitor the Chinese rocket that is expected to crash into Earth sometime tonight.

The rocket, Long March-5B, was launched on April 29 to deliver a module of China's space station.

"The U.S. Space Command on Saturday estimated re-entry would occur at 0204 GMT on Sunday, plus or minus one hour, while the Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies (CORDS) at Aerospace Corporation, a U.S. federally funded space-focused research and development center, updated its prediction to four hours either side of 0330 GMT on Sunday", Reuters reported.

It says on Twitter that the probable location is above the Mediterranean Basin, but it stresses the uncertainty, as reentry one minute earlier or later makes a difference of 470 kilometers.

The U.S. Space Command's Space Track Project said in a tweet: "Everyone else following the LongMarch5B re-entry can relax".

EU SST said on its website that the statistical probability of a ground impact in a populated area is "low", but noted that the uncontrolled nature of the object made any predictions uncertain.

More news: Multiple people reported trapped after rail overpass collapses in Mexico City

Nearly exactly a year ago, another Long March 5B rocket stage reentered the atmosphere, narrowly missing New York City before slamming into a West African village.

All other space-capable countries tightly control their first-stage rockets, and they either safely splash down into the ocean before entering orbit or - in the case of SpaceX - return to the surface in a controlled descent for reuse.

When completed by late 2022, the T-shaped Chinese Space Station is expected to weigh about 66 tons, considerably smaller than the International Space Station, which launched its first module in 1998 and will weigh about 450 tons when completed.

The 10-story, 23-ton piece of booster rocket will plummet back to Earth a week after it was launched by the Chinese government. In late April, authorities in the city of Shiyan, Hubei Province, issued a notice to people in the surrounding county to prepare for evacuation as parts were expected to land in the area.

Last year, debris from a rocket fell on villages in Ivory Coast but there were no injuries or deaths.

"It appears China won its gamble (unless we get news of debris in the Maldives)".



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