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The remains of the Chinese rogue missile Long March 5B reportedly landed in the Indian Ocean on Sunday – late Saturday evening in the eastern United States – after its uncontrolled descent was tracked worldwide last week.
Reuters reported on the landing, citing information from the Chinese government.
In addition, the US Space Command retweeted a post from Space-Track.org indicating that the missile debris has landed.
On Saturday before, the 18th Squadron of the Space Force had listed possible landing sites in Costa Rica, Haiti, Australia, Spain, Italy, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and New Zealand between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. (CET).
CHINESE MISSILE DEBRIS PHOTOGRAPHED IN SPACE
The approach of the missile drops triggered emotions that ranged from worry to apprehension to indifference – with jokes cracked along the way.
“We call it the Chinese missile because it came from China,” joked the Hodge Twins late Saturday.
Space junk watchers expected the core to drop sometime on Saturday or Sunday, but couldn’t predict when or where specifically because atmospheric variables, including weather, could have a huge impact on the missile’s path 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 driving an hour in WHEN, you’re 18,000 miles wrong in WHERE.”
That’s because the 23-ton rocket core, which is roughly 100 feet long and 15 feet wide, whizzed around the planet at about 18,000 miles per hour and made its way to the surface before building up friction as it re-entered the atmosphere .
Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, expected most parts of the missile to burn up on Friday and that “the likelihood of damage to the aviation or ground facilities” was “extremely low.”
Experts agreed – but they also stated that China’s startup practices are “irresponsible” at best.
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All other space-enabled countries tightly control their first stage rockets and either inject safely into the ocean before they enter 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 entering a West African village. No one was injured, but China plans to have a lot more rockets for lunch while it assembles its new Tianhe space station. Every mission carries risks until the authorities there improve their security measures.
Fox News’ Dom Calicchio contributed to this story.