CHINA ROCKET DEBRIS FALL INTO INDIAN OCEAN
A large Chinese rocket re-entered Earth's atmosphere Sunday morning, with debris falling into the Indian Ocean near the Maldives but most of it "already" burned up, Chinese state-run media reported, following concern over potential harm to people, according to a Kyodo News report
Part of the rocket landed at a location with the coordinates at longitude 72.47 degrees east and latitude 2.65 degrees north, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted the China Manned Space Engineering Office as saying.
The Long March-5B Y2 rocket, which carried the core module of China's first space station into orbit, had blasted off from the southern island province of Hainan on April 29. The core stage of the rocket is roughly 30 meters long.
The U.S. Space Command said it has confirmed the rocket debris re-entered over the Arabian Peninsula. "It is unknown if the debris impacted land or water," the command said in a statement.
Experts had warned that its uncontrolled re-entry could pose a danger, but China said the possibility of harm to aviation activities or people on the ground was "extremely low."
While China has said most of the components are ablated and destroyed during the re-entry process into the atmosphere, the United States has criticized the Communist-led government for not fully managing the rocket's return to the atmosphere.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week that there should be "a requirement to operate in a safe and thoughtful mode" for those who conduct activities in space.
The Global Times, a tabloid affiliated with the ruling Chinese Communist Party, quoted an analyst as saying "only a very small portion" may fall to the ground, which would "potentially land on areas away from human activities or in the ocean."
The U.S.-reported claim that the rocket wreckage would fly back "out of control" and "may cause damage if it hits inhabited areas" is nothing but Western hype of the "China threat" in space technology advancement, the newspaper quoted observers as saying.
The rocket is part of China's push to be a space power, potentially pitting the country in intense competition with the United States.