Rocket Earth Long March 5 Space Debris
Space debris from China’s Long March 5B rocket has landed near the Maldives in the Indian Ocean on Sunday, with the bulk of its components disintegrating upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. The coordinates of longitude 72.47 degrees east and latitude 2.65 degrees north places the point of impact in the ocean, west of the Maldives archipelago. Astrophysicist Jonathon McDowell predicted that the potential debris zone could have been anywhere from New York, Madrid or Beijing to southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand. Read more for some live coverage and additional information.

The 108-foot tall rocket weighs nearly 40,000 pounds and was launched into orbit on April 29. Once it spent all of its fuel, the rocket was left hurtling through space uncontrolled until Earth’s gravity pulled it back to the ground. European Space Agency (ESA) originally predicted a “risk zone” that consisted of any portion of Earth’s surface between about 41.5N and 41.5S latitude, which means nearly all of the Americas south of New York, Africa, Australia, parts of Asia south of Japan and Europe’s Spain, Portugal, Italy as well as Greece.

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It is common practice across the world for upper stages of rockets to burn up while reentering the atmosphere. To my knowledge, the upper stage of this rocket has been deactivated, which means that most of its parts will burn up upon re-entry, making the likelihood of damage to aviation or ground facilities and activities extremely low,” Wang said at the time,” said Wang Wenbin, a spokesman at the Chinese foreign ministry, at a regular media briefing on May 7.


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