NASA has criticized China for failing to meet responsible standards after debris from a Chinese rocket likely plunged into the Indian Ocean Saturday night, just west of the Maldives.
In a statement Sunday, NASA explained that China and other spacefaring nations need to minimize the risks to people and property on Earth when it comes to re-entries of space objects.
It added this is crucial to maximize safety, stability, security, and the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.
China's space agency said most of the rocket, a Long March 5B, burned up in the atmosphere.
"The landing area is located at 72.47° E, 2.5° N and surrounding waters. The vast majority of its parts were burnt up and destroyed during re-entry into the atmosphere."
CNN and other media outlets say it's not yet clear if any debris fell on land.
The roughly 30-meter-long stage is among the largest ever pieces of space debris to fall on Earth.
Late last month, China launched a piece of its new space station into orbit using the rocket, which weighed almost 20 tons.
After its fuel was spent, the rocket was left in space uncontrolled, until Earth's gravity dragged it back to the ground.
Such a scenario is generally avoided by the international space community, as most rockets conduct more controlled re-entries that aim for the ocean.
Failing that, they're left in so-called "graveyard" orbits that keep them in space for decades or even centuries.
Going forward, China plans ten more launches to carry additional parts of its space station into orbit.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.