Debris from China's Long March rocket has reentered Earth's atmosphere - crashing west of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and ending speculation on where it might fall.
The China Manned Space Engineering Office said most of the rocket burned up on the reentry. Other agencies tracking the rocket confirmed all this.
"After monitoring and analysis, at 10:24 (02:24 GMT) May 9 the last-stage wreckage of the Long March launch vehicle has reentered the atmosphere," the agency said.
The U.S. Space command said the rocket reentered over the Arabian Peninsula. It said it wan't sure if any debris hit land.
China now reporting https://t.co/dHSJVoItCY that the rocket reentered at 0224 UTC at 72.47E 2.65N which is right over the Maldives. If correct will be interesting to see if we get reports from there pic.twitter.com/NQovz33pqg — Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) May 9, 2021
"The exact location of the impact and the span of debris - both of which are unknown - will not be released by U.S. Space Command," the agency said.
Space-Track - a monitoring service that utilizes U.S. military data - said: "Everyone else following the #LongMarch5B reentry can relax. The rocket is down. We believe the rocket went down in the Indian Ocean, but are waiting on official data from @18SPCS."
Scientists said the exact trajectory and location were almost impossible to determine. Experts said a difference of just one minute on when the rocket would reenter the atmosphere would translate to hundreds of kilometers on the ground.
Experts said the likelihood of the rocket crashing into residential areas was slim as most of the planet is covered by water. It was estimated that the odds of the debris hitting anyone on earth was one in trillions.
Despite the assurances, the uncertainty of the rocket's orbital decay had caused concern and anxiety worldwide. China launched the Long March rocket last month to deliver an unmanned Tianhe module to the Chinese space station.
The Long March is the largest piece of space debris to reenter the earth's atmosphere. However, it is much smaller than the debris from the Columbia space shuttle, which crashed in 2003, and the Soviet Union's Salyut 7 space station, which reentered the atmosphere in 1991.