Monday, April 2, 2018

China: Tiangong-1 splashes down in Pacific

(Earth) China’s Tiangong-1 space station which the world has been watching these past few days re-entered the earth’s atmosphere and burnt up over the middle of the South Pacific on Monday, according to the Chinese space authority.

The craft re-entered the atmosphere around 8:15 a.m. Beijing time and the “vast majority” of it had burnt up upon re-entry, Most of the 10.4-metre-long space station burned up as it hurtled through the atmosphere, but a few pieces may have remained intact and splashed down in the southern Pacific Ocean, just north-west of Tahiti.

The 10.4-metre-long Tiangong-1, or "Heavenly Palace 1", was launched in 2011 to carry out docking and orbit experiments as part of China's ambitious space program, which aims to place a permanent station in orbit by 2023. It was originally planned to be decommissioned after 2 missions in 2013 It was then put it into sleep mode after its second visit in case its replacement, Tiangong-2, did not successfully launch.When the Chinese space agency tried to send instructions to Tiangong-1 in 2016, they found that it had lost power. There was no controlling it. Usually, when a large spacecraft reaches the end of its mission, operators use its thrusters to aim its re-entry so that any pieces that don’t vaporise or melt in the atmosphere end up hitting the ocean.