The Chinese rocket that's reportedly falling uncontrollably to Earth will mostly burn up on reentry, posing little threat to people and property on the ground, the Chinese government reassured the world on Friday.
Speaking in Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China was closely following the rocket's reentry into the atmosphere, Reuters reported.
"The probability of this process causing harm on the ground is extremely low," he said.
China is paying "great attention to the re-entry of the upper stage of the rocket into the atmosphere," he added.
The section of the rocket, which was launched on April 29 from China, is expected to crash back to Earth sometime Saturday. It could strike an inhabited area, experts warn.
Everything you need to know: Chinese rocket is hurtling back to Earth
Wang said Chinese authorities will release further information about the rocket in a “timely manner.” China’s space agency has yet to say whether the main stage of the huge Long March 5B rocket is being controlled or will make an out-of-control descent.
U.S. officials are watching the rocket's trajectory as well. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is "aware and he knows the space command is tracking, literally tracking this rocket debris," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
Where is the Chinese rocket going to land?
Where it will hit “cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its reentry,” the Pentagon said in a statement this week.
"We don't have a plan to shoot the rocket down," Austin said this week. "We're hoping that it will land in a place where it won't harm anyone ... hopefully in the ocean."
China's Global Times said the debris from the rocket is likely to fall in international waters.
According to Space.com, odds are the nearly 23-ton piece of space debris will break apart high in the atmosphere, with any remaining pieces hitting uninhabited areas, as 70% of Earth's surface is covered in ocean.
Usually, discarded rocket stages reenter the atmosphere soon after liftoff, normally over water, and don’t go into orbit.
The Long March 5B rocket carrying China's Tianhe space station core module lifted off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China's Hainan province April 29. Known as the Heavenly Harmony, the space station will be China's first to host astronauts long-term.
China plans 10 more launches to carry additional parts of the space station into orbit.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chinese rocket: Falling debris will mostly burn up, China says