The 100-foot-tall, 22-metric-ton Chinese Long March 5B rocket that launched the first chunk of Beijing’s new space station has reentered Earth’s atmosphere near the Maldives, China’s Manned Space Engineering Office reported.
According to the Washington Post, US Space Command, which helps locate man-made satellites in orbit around the planet, was tracking the rocket’s location. The agency said the rocket “re-entered over the Arabian Peninsula at approximately 10:15 p.m. EDT,” adding it was unknown if the debris impacted land or water.
The agency’s official Twitter account tweeted late Saturday, “Everyone else following the #LongMarch5B re-entry can relax. The rocket is down.”
Everyone else following the #LongMarch5B re-entry can relax. The rocket is down. You can see all relevant information and updates here on Twitter/Facebook, so there is no need to keep visiting the space-track dot org website.
— Space-Track (@SpaceTrackOrg) May 9, 2021
The rocket’s design puts the entire first stage into low-Earth orbit to deliver its payload — a 22.5-metric-ton Tianhe module that will serve as living quarters for China’s new space station in the next few years.
It’s not the first time a Chinese rocket has reentered Earth’s atmosphere uncontrolled. Tiangong-1, China’s first prototype space station, launched in 2011, reentered just seven years later and broke up in the atmosphere over the South Pacific Ocean.