Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Chinese space station breaks up upon re-entry to Earth's atmosphere

China space lab may fall to Earth later European Space Agency China space lab may fall to Earth later European Space Agency
Sandra Phillips | 02 April, 2018, 17:10

Tiangong-1 is China's first space station, which was launched on 29 September 2011.

Still, it captured the world's attention.

McDowell said there was unlikely to be any amateur images of the vessel's re-entry given it was daytime in the Pacific when it crashed to Earth.

At an altitude of 37 to 43 miles, debris will begin to turn into "a series of fireballs", which is when people on the ground will "see a spectacular show", he said.

It landed around 8.15 a.m. Monday Beijing time (8:15 p.m. ET Sunday), China's Manned Space Agency said.

"One of our missions, which we remain focused on, is to monitor space and the tens of thousands of pieces of debris that congest it, while at the same time working with allies and partners to enhance spaceflight safety and increase transparency in the space domain". 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.

Female astronaut Wang Yaping delivered a lecture from space lab to students back on Earth. The spacecraft was meant to be a step towards making a permanently staffed space station of their own, as China is not a part of the operation of the International Space Station.

China's space program has made rapid progress since it launched its first crewed mission in 2003 - becoming only the third country after Russian Federation and the United States to do so - including placing a rover on Mars and conducting a spacewalk. The spot, which is a graveyard for more than 200 spacecraft, is one of the most remote on the planet and is officially known as an "oceanic pole of inaccessibility".

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Crews at the European Space Agency in Germany have kept a watchful eye on the crashing space lab.

In September 2016, China launched its second space lab, Tiangong-2.

According to United States Air Force 18th Space Control Squadron, it had tracked the space station in its re-entry over the South Pacific.

The space lab was mostly burnt up in the atmosphere, according to the monitoring and analysis of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center and relevant organisations. It said it plans to assemble it in space in 2020 and will become fully operational in 2022.

It's not altogether uncommon for out-of-commission satellites, rocket parts and other pieces of space debris to fall from orbit.

The crash ends weeks of speculation about when, and where, the space station might return to Earth in a fiery finale.

Most famously, America's 77-ton Skylab crashed through the atmosphere in 1979, spreading pieces of wreckage near the southwest Australian city of Perth, which fined the US $400 for littering.

The agency said calmer space weather was now expected as a high-speed stream of solar particles did not cause an increase in the density of the upper atmosphere, as previously expected.

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