China's Tiangong-1 space lab plummets to Earth, misses Wisconsin

Audrey Hill
April 4, 2018

We're asking about Tiangong-1, the Chinese space station that finally "de-orbited" from space and into the Pacific around 8 PM Eastern time on April 1.

The Tiangong-1, which translates to Heavenly Palace, has been tumbling out of control in low-Earth orbit for over a year after an unspecified fault crippled it in 2016. The Tiangong-1 'mostly burnt up above the ocean's central region at 8:15 AM Beijing time, China's Manned Space Engineering Office said.

According to experts, generally, thrusters are fired on such a large space lab to control and drive them towards a remote zone over the Southern Ocean, but it appeared that such a facility was not available with it after the loss of command links.

But for a long time, the exact return point was closely followed. While they expected most of the derelict station to burn up as it entered the atmosphere, there was concern that small pieces that survived reentry could cause damage if they fell in a populated area.

The fall of Tiangong-1 was monitored by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee, an worldwide group that included NASA, the ESA as well as the space agencies of 11 other nations.

For days, astronomers had been unsure where the decommissioned space station would fall, citing several factors - including how the station tumbles and breaks up, variations in the gravitational field of a landmass or ocean, solar radiation pressure and atmospheric drag. A safe ending to Tiangong 1's unintended journey back to Earth. USA -funded Aerospace Corporation confirmed that the space station reentered in the Pacific Ocean.

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The corporation, which provides technical support for the space industry, had not been in touch with the Chinese side about the re-entry, Thompson said.

Tiangong-1 was launched on September 29, 2011 and its service ended in March 2016.

Around noon Eastern time on April 1, eight hours before the craft actually crashed, the European Space Agency (ESA) had reached the limit of what it could forecast. The laboratory helped paved the way for China's future space station, which the country plans to complete in 2022.

Space.com reports that if someone happens to find a suspected chunk of the Tiangong-1 to not touch it as it may be contaminated with a toxic rocket fuel.

About one month later after the launching of Tiangong-1, China sent Shenzhou-8 unmanned spacecraft into orbit. For 6 years of the mission the unit was visited by two teams of taikonaut from China.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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