China's fallen space lab plummets into south pacific

03 April, 2018, 03:14 | Author: Lillian Steele
  • European Space Agency says the Chinese space lab may re-enter the atmosphere as late as Monday morning GMT

A defunct uncontrolled Chinese space laboratory re-entered the Earth's atmosphere today and plunged in the South Pacific, Chinese officials said.

"The Chinese space agency had originally planned to bring the lab back in a more controlled way", Rebecca says.

The US Joint Force Space Component Command (JFSCC) also confirmed the Tiangong-1 had re-entered the atmosphere over the South Pacific after coordinating with counterparts in the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Meanwhile, the Aerospace now forecasting a 10:30 p.m. EDT Sunday crash, give or take seven hours.

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

"Small bits definitely will have made it to the surface", he told Reuters, adding that while about 90 percent would have burnt up in the atmosphere and just 10 percent made it to the ground, that fraction still amounted to 700 kg (1,543 lb) to 800 kg (1,764 lb).

Roger Thompson, senior engineering specialist with the Aerospace Corporation in Virginia, said modeling of Tiangong 1's re-entry by monitors in the USA had been highly accurate, leaving him feeling "great" about their predictions.

Tiangong-1-or "Heavenly Palace"-was placed in orbit in September 2011, acting as a testing ground for China's efforts to build its own space station by 2022, but ceased functioning in 2016". The odds of space debris hitting a person was said to be less than one in 1 trillion. "The good thing is that it doesn't cause any damage when it comes down and that's what we like".

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Asked about the space station, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular briefing he had no other information and reiterated that China had been reporting the situation to the United Nations space agency in an open and transparent way.

Experts had struggled to predict exactly where the lab would make its re-entry - and China's space agency wrongly suggested it would be off Sao Paulo, Brazil, shortly before the moment came. The latter mission included China's first female astronaut, Liu Yang.

Since then, it has orbited gradually closer and closer to Earth on its own while being monitored.

The station had two modules, one for its solar panels and engines, and one for a pair of astronauts to live in and conduct experiments.

How advanced is China's space program? The first space lab launched into orbit by China burned up over the southern region of the Pacific ocean.

"It's been tumbling and spinning for a while, which means that when it really starts to come down it's less predictable about what happens to it", Tucker said.

China was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station mainly due to US legislation barring such cooperation and concerns over the Chinese space program's strong military connections.


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