In one of the most uncontrolled fall of a piece of man-made space debris incident in decades, the remains of a giant segment of a Chinese rocket crash-landed in the Atlantic Ocean this week. The rocket's core stage measured around 100 long and 16 feet wide, with a mass of approximately 20 metric tons.
For a test into the orbit, a Long March 5B rocket launched a prototype crew capsule resembling a SpaceX Crew Dragon on May 5. The core stage of the large rocket orbited the Earth for almost a week and then it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere.
According to the US military, the bits that did not completely burn up might have come up on the surface and crashed down into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa.
The Long March 5B rocket's core stage re-entered the atmosphere at 11:33 a.m. EDT on Monday. The U.S. Space Force's 18th Space Control Squadron stated that when the bits entered the Earth's surface, the rocket was flying over the Atlantic Ocean.
In less than five minutes, the re-entry occurred and it happened after the rocket body soared almost directly over New York City.
Before this, it was Soviet Union's Salyut 7 space station in 1991 that entered the Earth's surface in such an uncontrolled manner, this was stated by an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who tracks global satellite and launch activity.
The Long March 5B rocket lifted off the Wenchang launch center on Hainan Island in southern China and it carried a prototype for China's next-generation crew capsule into orbit on an unpiloted test flight.
The parts of the 30-metre-long core stage that didn't burn up during re-entry, didn't end up falling on land with people. However, observers were guessing the rocket's remains might land in Australia, US, or Africa.
If this happened, there would have been loss of life but such an incident is generally considered unlikely because Earth's majority area constitutes of water.
Till now, only NASA has been able to send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit and with the Long March 5B rocket, it seems that China is serious about doing that.