Off Portugal, in the south of Indonesia… It was finally in the Indian Ocean, near the Maldives, that the debris of the Chinese rocket finished its course, during the night from Saturday to Sunday.
“According to the monitoring and analysis, at 10:24 am (02:24 GMT) on May 9, 2021, the first stage of the Long-March 5B carrier rocket entered the atmosphere,” said the Chinese Bureau of Human Space Engineering in a press release, providing the coordinates of a point in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives.
He said most of this segment disintegrated and was destroyed on entering the atmosphere.
The Chinese authorities had said that the uncontrolled return of the segment of the Long March-5B rocket, which had placed the first module of its space station in orbit on April 29, presented little risk.
Space-Track, which used US military data, also confirmed entry into the atmosphere.
“Everyone who follows the re-entry of # LongMarch5B can relax.
The rocket has fallen, ”he tweeted.
The descent of the segment corresponds to the predictions of some experts that there was a good chance that it would be damaged in the sea, because the planet is covered by 70% of water.
But an uncontrolled entry of an object of this size - 18 tons anyway - had raised concerns about the damage and possible victims, despite the low statistical probability. US Defense Minister Lloyd Austin assured this week that his country had no intention of destroying the rocket. He had hinted, however, that its launch had not been planned with sufficient care by China.
US and European space authorities had been monitoring the situation closely, trying to determine when and where it might fall.
In 2020, debris from another Longue-Marche rocket crashed into villages in Côte d'Ivoire, causing damage, but no injuries.
In April 2018, China's Tiangong-1 space laboratory disintegrated when it entered the atmosphere, two years after it ceased to function.
China has been investing billions of euros in its space program for several decades.