Doomed Chinese space lab Tiangong-1 meets watery grave in Pacific

  • Doomed Chinese space lab Tiangong-1 meets watery grave in Pacific

Doomed Chinese space lab Tiangong-1 meets watery grave in Pacific

A second space lab, Tiangong-2, was launched in 2016.

Tiangong-1 reentered Earth's atmosphere at about 5:16 p.m. "The Tiangong-1 space lab re-entered Earth's atmosphere Monday morning, landing in the middle of the South Pacific". As noted by the experts from Aerospace Corporation, the probability of falling on the head of the space debris is equal to one accident per trillion.

In a statement posted online, the China Manned Space Agency said the results of analysis and tracking by the Beijing Aerospace Control Center and other Chinese space organizations showed that re-entry took place at 8:15 am and that most of the spacecraft burned up in the process. "Most of the parts burnt up and disappeared", Geng said adding that China kept the United Nations space agency informed about the situation.

While Tiangong-1 is considered to be large enough to cause damage in case of an uncontrolled re-entry, historically, it certainly does not make it to the list of the biggest uncontrolled object re-entries.

"Although Tiangong-1 was only a transitional platform between the spaceship and space station, it's a key step for China to acquire the spacecraft docking technology, and it demonstrated the possibility of long-time space residence for the Chinese", said Bai Ruixue, a former space journalist and now CEO of a company focusing on public understanding of space science.

"Most likely the debris is in the ocean, and even if people stumbled over it, it would just look like rubbish in the ocean and be spread over a huge area of thousands of square kilometers", Tucker said.

Such a practice, frowned upon in the worldwide space community, has been written off as a major blot on China's space program.

The literal fall of Tiangong-1 has always been tracked and anticipated, first noticed by an amateur satellite tracker in 2016, months before the Chinese government acknowledged that their space lab would come crashing back down from its uncontrolled orbit.

Tiangong, which means "heavenly palace", stopped communicating with Chinese officials in March of 2016. It was created to accommodate 2 astronauts and teams visited the station in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

For the past few weeks the fate of Tiangong-1 has provided some drama.

Since the loss of contact, Tiangong-1's orbit slowly decayed.

And what goes into lower Earth orbit pretty much always comes down.

When Tiangong-1 hit the atmosphere, it was most likely traveling at about 17,000 miles per hour.