explainer

The falling Chinese rocket has crashed into earth. Here's what we know.

At about 12.24pm AEST today, remnants of China's biggest rocket re-entered the atmosphere before crashing into the Indian Ocean, ending days of speculation over where the debris would hit Earth.

With most of the Earth's surface covered by water, the odds of a populated area on land being hit were low, but uncertainty over the rocket's orbital decay and China's failure to issue stronger reassurances in the run-up to the re-entry fuelled anxiety.

But Chinese state media have said the rocket debris hit in ocean west of the Maldives archipelago, and says most of the debris was burnt up on its way down.

It reportedly landed at longitude 72.47 degrees east and latitude 2.65 degrees north.

A photo of the Long March 5B rocket lifting off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on April 29, 2021. Image: AAP.

The Global Times, a Chinese tabloid published by the official People's Daily, dismissed as "Western hype" concerns that the rocket was "out of control" and could cause damage.

"It is common practice across the world for upper stages of rockets to burn up while reentering the atmosphere," said Wang Wenbin, a spokesman at the Chinese foreign ministry, at a regular media briefing on May 7.

People from across the world have claimed they saw the falling rocket, posting their sightings to Twitter - but it's unclear which ones are true or not. 

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And of course, the Twittersphere also responded to the crash with its typical humour.

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Feature image: AAP and WRTV Indianapolis.

- With AAP.