The return of the missile debris has also been confirmed by the United States’ 18th Space Observation Squadron, which is dedicated to tracking artificial objects in Earth orbit.
The missile’s unsupervised re-entry into Earth caused concern, although Chinese authorities and independent experts have warned that the risk of debris falling into a populated area is extremely low.
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China launched Long March 5B on April 29 to put part of the space station that that country is building into orbit. Several American and European tracking sites were monitoring the return of the missile, But it was not possible to determine whether it would disintegrate upon entry. Also, it was not possible to pinpoint the exact location of the potential debris falling.
Down to earth
Chinese state media, citing Reuters, reported that most of the Long March 5B components had disintegrated upon entering Earth’s atmosphere and fell into debris in the Indian Ocean.
The debris of the missile entered the atmosphere at 10:24 a.m. Beijing time (02:24 GMT) on Sunday. The coordinates specify the location of the point of impact in the Indian Ocean, in North of the archipelago of the Maldives, located southwest of Sri Lanka, 600 km from India.
Long March 5B mission
On April 29, China used the rocket to put part of its space station into orbit for the past week. The space station of the Asian giant will be assembled from several units that will be sent at different times.
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China hopes to have it fully operational by the end of 2022.
To get its space station ready on schedule, China has set a tight schedule for 11 launches over the next two years.
The T-shaped station is set to operate for 10 years and its life can be extended to 15 years with proper repair and maintenance, according to the Chinese Academy of Space Technology.
It is expected to be the only operational station in open orbit to foreign partners after the International Space Station’s withdrawal.