China's Long March 5B Y2 rocket is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere today (Saturday 7 May) and parts of the debris could land in populated areas.
It is yet to be confirmed by China's space agency whether the 21-ton vehicle will make an out-of-control descent but New York is potentially said to be in its path.
Despite the possible danger, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson says that it will mostly burn up on re-entry, posing little threat to people and property on the ground, according to The Global Times.
Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Chinese authorities will release information about the re-entry of the rocket, expected over the weekend, in a 'timely manner'.
He went on to say that China 'pays great attention to the re-entry of the upper stage of the rocket into the atmosphere'.
The spokesperson added: "As far as I understand, this type of rocket adopts a special technical design, and the vast majority of the devices will be burnt up and destructed during the re-entry process, which has a very low probability of causing harm to aviation activities and the ground."
The largest section of the rocket that launched the main module of China's first permanent space station is expected to plunge back to Earth as early as Saturday at an unknown location.
Discarded rocket stages usually re-enter the atmosphere soon after lift-off, normally over water, and do not go into orbit - last May, another Chinese rocket fell uncontrolled into the Atlantic Ocean off west Africa.
The US Defence Department expects rocket stage to fall to Earth on Saturday, but the Pentagon said where it will hit 'cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its re-entry'.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said US Space Command was 'aware of and tracking the location' of the rocket.
The Aerospace Corporation expects the debris to hit the Pacific near the Equator after passing over eastern US cities. Its orbit covers a stretch of the planet from New Zealand to Newfoundland.
The Long March 5B rocket carried the main module of Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, into orbit on 29 April.
China plans 10 more launches to carry additional parts of the space station into orbit.
Back in 2016 China's first space station, Tiangong-1, crashed into the Pacific Ocean after Beijing confirmed it had lost control. Three years later, the space agency controlled the demolition of its second station, Tiangong-2, in the atmosphere.Featured Image Credit: PA