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Thread: Tiangong-1 plummets back to Earth

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    02 Aug 03
    San Diego

    Tiangong-1 plummets back to Earth

    China's first space station, Tiangong-1 (Heavenly/Celestial Palace), launched in 2011, has just re-entered Earth's atmosphere. No real videos of re-entry I could find, just people posting mash-ups of pictures video of other stuff re-entering for comparison, but I'll see if there's anything that emerges over the next few days. I imagine an 8.5 ton spacecraft re-entering and breaking up in the atmosphere would be quite a spectacular sight. Maybe somebody on a fishing or whaling boat had their cameras turned to the sky at the right moment.

    The Chinese were predicting a re-entry in the Atlantic near Sao Paulo, but instead it re-entered a couple thousand or more kilometers west of Chile in the South Pacific.

    China's defunct Tiangong-1 space lab mostly broke up on re-entering the Earth's atmosphere above the South Pacific, Chinese and US reports say.

    It re-entered the atmosphere around 00:15 GMT on Monday, China's Manned Space Engineering Office said.

    Tiangong-1 was launched in 2011 to carry out docking and orbit experiments.

    It was part of China's efforts to build a manned space station by 2022, but stopped working in March 2016.
    What do we know about where it came down?

    The rather vague "above the South Pacific" is the line from space officials.

    US specialists at the Joint Force Space Component Command said they had used orbit analysis technology to confirm Tiangong-1's re-entry.

    Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted that it appeared to have come down north-west of Tahiti.

    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 European Space Agency said in advance that Tiangong-1 would probably break up over water, which covers much of the Earth's surface.

    It stressed that the chances of anyone being hit by debris from the module were "10 million times smaller than the yearly chance of being hit by lightning".

    It's not clear how much of the debris reached the Earth's surface intact.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 02 Apr 18, at 05:27.

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