The reported landing ended days of speculation about where and when the debris would hit Earth.
Michio Kaku details the impending rocket crash due to take place this weekend on ‘Your World’ with Neil Cavuto
The remnants of China’s rogue Long March 5B rocket reportedly landed in the Indian Ocean on Sunday — late Saturday night Eastern U.S. time — after its uncontrolled descent was tracked around the world over the past week.
Reuters reported the landing, citing information from the Chinese government.
In addition, U.S. Space Command retweeted a post by Space-Track.org, indicating the rocket debris had landed.
Earlier Saturday, the Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron listed possible landing sites in Costa Rica, Haiti, Australia, Spain, Italy, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and New Zealand sometime between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET.
The approach of the rocket debris prompted emotions ranging from worry to concern to indifference — with jokes cracked along the way.
“We call it the Chinese rocket because it comes from CHINA,” comedians the Hodge Twins joked late Saturday.
Space junk watchers had expected the core to come down sometime Saturday or Sunday, but couldn’t predict early on when or where specifically because atmospheric variables, including the weather, could have a huge impact on the rocket’s path, the astronomer Dr. Jonathan McDowell, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told Fox News on Friday.
“Since we don’t know WHEN, we don’t know where,” he said in an email. “If you’re an hour out in WHEN, you’re 18,000 miles wrong in WHERE.”
That’s because the 23-ton rocket core, which is about 100 feet long and 15 feet wide, was whizzing around the planet at about 18,000 mph, inching its way toward the surface before building friction upon reentry to the atmosphere.
Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, had said Friday he expected most of the rocket’s parts to burn up and that “the likelihood of damage to aviation or ground facilities” was “extremely low.”
Experts agreed on that count – but they also indicated China’s launch practices were “irresponsible” at best.
All other space-capable countries tightly control their first-stage rockets, and they either safely splash down into the ocean before entering orbit or – in the case of SpaceX – return to the surface in a controlled descent for reuse.
Almost exactly a year ago, another Long March 5B rocket stage reentered the atmosphere, narrowly missing New York City before slamming into a West African village. No one was hurt, but China plans to lunch many more of the rockets as it assembles its new Tianhe space station, and each mission carries risk until authorities there enhance their safety measures.