The remnants of a Chinese rocket re-entered the atmosphere and crashed into the Indian Ocean north of Maldives, according to the 18th Space Control Squadron. They re-entered the atmosphere at 10:15 p.m. ET over the Arabian Peninsula. It was unknown if the debris impacted land or water. The Chinese space agency, which pinpointed the landing area just north of the Maldives, said most of the rocket was destroyed during re-entry. The 23-ton Chinese rocket Long March-5B, which was about 108 feet tall, recently launched the first module for the country’s new space station into orbit. It orbited the planet unpredictably every 90 minutes at about 17,000 miles per hour. Its fast speed made its landing place nearly impossible to predict. The rocket had the potential to land in the U.S., Mexico, Central America, South America, Africa, India, China or Australia.
NASA slammed China for “failing to meet responsible standards” for the re-entry of space debris. “Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement Saturday night. Most rockets used to lift satellites and other objects into space conduct more controlled reentries that aim for the ocean, or they’re left in so-called “graveyard” orbits that keep them in space for decades or centuries.The China National Space Administration has faced issues with re-entry in the past.