In China, however, the country’s space administration stayed silent for days amid criticism that allowing such a large rocket stage to free-fall towards Earth was irresponsible and posed a safety risk — albeit a small one — to many countries.
Finally, on Sunday morning Beijing time, the China Manned Space Engineering Office broke its silence, confirming
the remnants of the rocket had plunged into the Indian Ocean near the Maldives after most of it had burned up in the atmosphere.
For many who have followed the rocket’s return, the news came as a big relief. In China, it was not only seen as a vindication of the rocket’s design but also used by state media to argue that the intense global attention was merely a Western effort to discredit China’s space program and thwart its progress.
“Their hype and smears were in vain,” the Global Times, a state-run newspaper, said in an editorial Sunday
, accusing US scientists and NASA of “acting against their conscience” and being “anti-intellectual.”
“These people are jealous of China’s rapid progress in space technology,” the paper said. “Some of (them) even try to use the noises they made to obstruct and interfere with China’s future intensive launches for the construction of its space station.”
Editorial credit: MorrisonMike / Shutterstock.com