Update – Chinese rocket lands in Indian Ocean

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UPDATE – Remnants of China’s biggest rocket landed in the Indian Ocean on Sunday, with most of its components destroyed upon re-entry into the atmosphere, ending days of speculation over where the debris would hit but drawing U.S. criticism over lack of transparency. The coordinates given by Chinese state media, citing the China Manned Space Engineering Office, put the point of impact in the ocean, west of the Maldives archipelago.

Debris from the Long March 5B has had some people looking warily skyward since it blasted off from China’s Hainan island on April 29, but the China Manned Space Engineering Office said most of the debris was burnt up in the atmosphere.

Earlier : Italian warning that “parts” of 9 central-southern regions, among them Sicily, that could be hit

In fact, on Thursday the Italian authorities have warned that there are “parts” of 9 central-southern regions, among them Sicily, that could be hit by the falling fragments of the Chinese space rocket Long March 5B.

Most debris from a large Chinese rocket expected to plunge back through the atmosphere this weekend will be burned up on re-entry and is highly unlikely to cause any harm, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Friday.

These are Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Basilicata , Puglia, Calabria, Sicily and Sardinia. The expected return to earth is set for 2:24 am on 9 May, with a time window of uncertainty of ± 6 hours.

The warning came from the Operational Committee of the Italian Civil Protection which was convened by the head of the Department, Fabrizio Curciowhich among other advised that  it is better to stay indoors and not in open places since “it is unlikely that the fragments cause the collapse of buildings”.

The Long March 5B rocket blasted off from China’s Hainan island on April 29, carrying the unmanned Tianhe module, which contains what will become living quarters on a permanent Chinese space station.

The location of the rocket’s descent into Earth’s atmosphere as it falls back from space “cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its reentry”, which is projected to occur around May 8, U.S. Space Command said.

Debris from the Long March 5B is likely to fall in international waters, China’s Global Times reported on Wednesday.

Harvard-based astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell told Reuters that based on its current orbit, the debris trail is likely to fall somewhere as far north as New York, Madrid or Beijing and as far south as southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand, or anywhere in between.

See also: Chinese Rocket Debris Set For Re-Entry By Early Sunday – U.S. R&D Centre

Photo: EPA PHOTO/NASA

Via Reuters/ ANSA