As 2021 lurches on with rising property prices, pay freezes and vaccine woes, many Kiwis waited for the uncontrolled entry of China’s Long March 5B with a perverse sense of anticipation.

Just our luck that it missed us then.

Like Covid and touring rock stars, the rocket decided to give New Zealand a miss, plunging into the Indian Ocean yesterday.

But we were ready for it, a nation primed by years of disaster to receive the flaming debris with … big hands?

In Hamilton, the city of the future, they watched the skies.

But alas, it was not to be. The rocket landed in the Indian Ocean instead.

“Rockets can’t afford to land in Wellington,” said one wit online, while others decried the lost opportunity to ask the astral visitor what it thought of New Zealand.

The uncontrolled re-entry wasn’t popular with many in the space community.

Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, who tracked the tumbling rocket part, said on Twitter, “An ocean reentry was always statistically the most likely. It appears China won its gamble … But it was still reckless.”

But don’t despair, because China isn’t done yet.

This morning, astronomer Duncan Steel told RNZ that this rocket is just the first in a round of uncontrolled re-entries as China moves to build a permanent space station.

Catch you next time rocket friend!

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