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Two weeks ago, more than 12 million Chinese viewers tuned in to watch a live broadcast of the core module of China’s first crewed space station being launched into orbit. Not far from the launch site, a symphony orchestra performed as the Long March 5B rocket carrying the module took off, in celebration of a historic achievement that marks a key step forward in China’s growing space ambitions.
But last weekend, all eyes were in the sky for a very different reason: The core stage of the rocket was hurtling back to earth in freefall.