Early Sunday that the rocket, called the Long March 5B, had re-entered the atmosphere at 10:24 a.m. Beijing time, landing at a location with coordinates of longitude 72.47 degrees east and latitude 2.65 degrees north. That would put the impact location in the Indian Ocean, west of the Maldives archipelago.
The rocket was launched on April 29 at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China’s Hainan province. It measured 98 feet long and 16.5 feet wide, and it weighed 21 metric tons.
The Long March-5B Y2 rocket was carrying the Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, module, which is the first of three key components for the construction of China’s space station, which will be completed by the end of next year.
Tianhe will act “the management and control hub of the space station” which is called Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace, Chinese authorities said after the April 29 launch of the rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the island province of Hainan.
Its mission was to carry into orbit a module containing living quarters for a future Chinese space station. But after completing that task, the body of the rocket circled Earth in an uncontrolled manner before reentering the lower atmosphere.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a press conference Friday that it was “common practice” across the world for the upper stages of rockets to burn up while reentering the atmosphere.