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Out-of-control Chinese rocket lands in Indian Ocean near Maldives

According to China Manned Space Engineering Office, the rocket made impact about 12.24pm AEST, roughly two hours earlier than predicted.

Most of the remnants of the vessel burned up during re-entry to earth’s atmosphere, officials said, putting to bed week-long fears over the potential damage the rocket could have caused if it struck land.

The location of the landing. (9News)

What was left of the spacecraft landed at open sea, at 72.47 degrees east longitude and 2.65 degrees north latitude.

The Long March 5B rocket, which was around 30 metres tall and weighed 20 tonnes, entered earth’s low orbit earlier this morning.

It travelled at more than 30,000 kilometres an hour, was more than 10 stories tall, and weighed roughly the same as a full garbage truck, causing many to raise concerns about the impact its landing could have had.

The rocket launched a piece of the new Chinese space station into orbit on April 29 but then was left to hurtle through space uncontrolled until Earth’s gravity began pulling it back to the ground.

A Long March 5B rocket carrying a module for a Chinese space station lifts off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Wenchang in southern Chinas Hainan Province, Thursday, April 29, 2021. (AP)

That approach is a break with what officials call “best practice” compared with what other space agencies do.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson criticised China over the re-entry, saying spacefaring nations needed to minimise risk and maximise transparency in such situations.

“It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris,” he said, in a statement.

“It is critical that China and all spacefaring nations and commercial entities act responsibly and transparently in space to ensure the safety, stability, security, and long-term sustainability of outer space activities.”

A Long March-5 rocket carrying the Tianwen-1 Mars probe lifts off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China’s Hainan Province in July last year. (AP)

Despite recent efforts to better regulate and mitigate space debris, Earth’s orbit is littered with hundreds of thousands of pieces of uncontrolled junk, most of which are smaller than 10 centimetres.

Objects are constantly falling out of orbit, though most of them burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere before they have a chance to make an impact on the surface.

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