The Defense Department announced on Thursday that it has no plans of shooting down an uncontrolled Chinese rocket falling towards Earth. It is expected to crash down on Saturday or Sunday.
“We have the capability to do a lot of things, but we don’t have a plan to shoot it down as we speak,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday afternoon.
Austin’s comments came after other components of the military confirmed that the 100-foot Long March 5B rocket, which helped launch China’s first permanent space station, is no longer under Beijing’s space agency’s control.
Where the rocket will land remains unknown.
“We’re hopeful it will land in a place where it won’t harm anyone – hopefully in the ocean or someplace like that,” Austin said, adding indirect criticism of the Chinese: “For those of us who operate in the space domain, there should be a requirement to operate in a safe and thoughtful mode, and make sure we take those kinds of things into consideration.”