Remnants of the massive Long March-5B Y2 rocket re-entered Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean near the Maldives, space officials in China announced late Saturday.

The big picture: Most of the debris from the rocket that carried a Chinese Space Station module to orbit last month burned up during the uncontrolled re-entry, the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) said in a social media post.

Between the lines: Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., tweeted, “An ocean reentry was always statistically the most likely.

  • “It appears China won its gamble (unless we get news of debris in the Maldives). But it was still reckless.”

Of note: Axios’ Miriam Kramer notes that China’s Tiangong-1 space station came returned in an uncontrolled fall, burning up above the Pacific Ocean in 2018.

What to watch: We could see more uncontrolled rocket re-entries in the future as China launches further missions to its new space station, per the New York Times.

Editor’s note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.


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