8.5-ton Space Station Is Slowly Heading Towards Earth
Rumors about China losing control over its first space station Tiangong-1 have been confirmed. Wu Ping who represented China’s manned space program during the conference dedicated to launching Tiangong-2 in Jiuquan. The Washington Post reports that a 8.5-ton module is heading towards the Earth and will enter its atmosphere by the end of 2017. “Based on our calculation and analysis, most parts of the space lab will burn up during falling,” Wu Ping said, Xinhua reports. Wu ensured that China will continue to monitor for risk of collision of the module with other objects, will take care of the space debris, and announce the estimated date and time when the module will enter the atmosphere.
The Guardian cites Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, who is concerned that Tiangong-1 will not entirely burn in the atmosphere and some of its parts will reach the Earth. The scientist says that the debris can land both in the ocean and on somebody’s car. The exact date and place of landing can be predicted only several hours prior and any changes in the atmosphere may change the landing location from one continent to another.
China has launched its first space orbital station Tiangong-1 in 2011. The lab, the title of which translated as ‘Sky Palace’, served a base for China’s space experiments for four and a half years — two years longer than it was expected. The last manned mission took place in 2013, after that the station continued working as an unmanned satellite until it was decommissioned in March 2016 after some technical abnormalities. In June 2016, Thomas Dorman, an amateur astronomer from El Paso, who observes the movement of spacecrafts warned Space.com that 8-ton space laboratory spinned out of control, but the rumors that China has no control over its station anymore have confirmed only now. According to Wu Ping, Tiangong-1 is currently intact and is 370 kilometers away from the Earth.
Cover photo: STR / AFP / East News