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The Long March-5B Y2 rocket, carrying the Tianhe module, blasts off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China's Hainan Province, April 29. Photo: Zhang Liyun/Xinhua via Getty Images

Remnants of the Long March-5B Y2 rocket re-entered Earth's atmosphere over the Indian Ocean near the Maldives, officials in China announced Sunday morning Beijing time.

Details: Most of the rocket's debris burned up during the uncontrolled re-entry, the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) said in a social media post. NASA administrator Bill Nelson accused China's government in a statement Saturday of "failing to meet responsible standards regarding their 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."
— Nelson
  • Parts of the rocket's 100-foot core re-entered the atmosphere at 10.24a.m. Sunday Beijing time (10.24p.m. Saturday ET), landing at 72.47 degrees east longitude and 2.65 degrees north latitude, the CMSEO said.

For the record: The Pentagon said this week it was tracking the descent of the rocket that carried a Chinese Space Station module to orbit last month, but experts couldn't predict where it would land.

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 returned to Earth in an uncontrolled descent in 2018, burning up above the Pacific Ocean.

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 article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

China's homegrown techlash

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

With the Chinese government accelerating moves against its own tech industry, China is — for now — prioritizing Communist Party control of the domestic economy over aggressive international competition.

Why it matters: China and the U.S. are both playing a long game, with tech as the playing field, companies as the pieces and domination of the global economy as the stakes.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

Updated 17 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.