It’s unclear at the moment if any pieces of the 25-ton Long March 5 rocket stage hit populated areas.

Posted BY: Space.com

A big piece of Chinese space junk has crashed back to Earth.

The 25-ton (22.5 metric tons) core stage of a Long March 5B rocket reentered Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean this afternoon (July 30), ending its brief but controversial orbital stay.

“#USSPACECOM can confirm the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Long March 5B (CZ-5B) reentered over the Indian Ocean at approx 10:45 am MDT [12:45 p.m. EDT; 1645 GMT] on 7/30,” the U.S. Space Command announced via Twitter today (opens in new tab). “We refer you to the #PRC for further details on the reentry’s technical aspects such as potential debris dispersal + impact location.”

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The Long March 5B lifted off on July 24, carrying a new module toward China’s under-construction Tiangong space station. Unlike the core stages of most rockets, which are steered to a safe disposal shortly after launch or land softly for future reuse, the Long March 5B reached orbit along with its payload. And it stayed up — as a big, fast-moving piece of space junk — until atmospheric drag brought it down in an unpredictable and uncontrolled fashion.

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