Tiangong-1 re-enters atmosphere, burns up over South Pacific

04 April, 2018, 00:49 | Author: Becky Perry
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Beijing said it lost control of the station in 2015 and couldn't perform a planned re-entry.

Remnants may have crashed somewhere in the central part of the South Pacific, the agency said, without elaborating. The remains of the Mir space station and plenty of International Space Station supply spacecraft now reside in its watery depths and it's thought as many as 100 former spacecraft and satellites have splashed down in the area. "According to my information now there is no sign that the re-entry has caused any harm to the ground", China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang told reporters here on Monday. China's chief space laboratory designer, Zhu Zongpeng, has denied Tiangong was out of control, but hasn't provided specifics on what, if anything, China was doing to guide the craft's return to Earth. It's likely that the drag would have quickly ripped off solar panels and antenna. Then its main structure burns or explodes from increasing heat and friction.

The amount of debris that landed on the Earth's surface still intact has not yet been determined.

Monday's re-entry put an end to months of speculation surrounding the fate of Tiangong I, which contributed greatly to China's ability to build a space station on its own.

The Tiangong-1, measuring 10 metres long and weighing around 8.5 tonnes, was launched on September 29, 2011.

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In March 2016, the Chinese announced that communications had ended with the space station, but did not provide details.

It hosted China's first woman astronaut, Liu Yang of the Shenzhou IX mission. It was the agency's first module to test docking technology, which is essential for bringing astronauts and cargo into space.

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. It was occupied by two separate crews of three astronauts, or taikonauts, each - a mission in June 2012 included China's first female astronaut, Liu Yang. The space station was orbiting in lower Earth orbit at about 17,000 miles per hour.

"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". It has docked with Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft, and undertaken a series of tasks, making important contributions to China's manned space cause.

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