Debris from a rocket launched by China crashed back to Earth on Sunday, landing in the Indian Ocean, according to Chinese state media.Parts of the Long March 5B rocket re-entered the atmosphere at 10:24 a.m. Beijing time, Chinese state media cited the China Manned Space Engineering Office as saying.
The coordinates put the point of impact in the ocean somewhere southwest of India and Sri Lanka. Most of the debris was burnt up in the atmosphere, it said.
The 98-foot-long, 20-ton section rocket launched on April 29 carried part of the country’s new space station, and was the first of the expected 11 missions necessary to complete the project.
It’s common for parts of rockets to fall back to Earth, but this piece caused concern because its lack of control meant that experts weren’t sure where on the planet it would strike.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson later released a statement, saying “China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris.”
There was a tiny chance the debris could have hit New York, Los Angeles, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, the Nigerian capital of Abuja or Beijing.
Usually, discarded rocket stages don’t reach orbit and instead crash down to earth, often into water.