Sunday, 22 April, 2018

China's defunct space lab hurtling towards earth

Chinese space station falling The Aerospace Corporation Chinese space station falling Tiangong-1 will re-enter the atmosphere around Easter
Sherry Houston | 03 April, 2018, 06:27

The European Space Agency (ESA) has said that the defunct Space Station created by China, Tiangong-1 will crash back into Earth's surface on April 2.

China's Manned Space Agency did not specify a time when it expects the craft to re-enter the atmosphere, the statement on Sunday said.

The space station orbited our planet until 09:00 hours, local time, on Sunday, at an altitude of 165.6 kilometers and it is estimated to be 8.4 kilometers closer than the previous day.

The chances of anyone being struck by the debris stands at less than one in a trillion.

That's because - due to what was likely some form of mechanical failure - China lost contact with Tiangong-1, "Heavenly Palace", China's first space station, back in March of 2016.

Tiangong-1 "won't crash to the Earth fiercely, as in sci-fi movie scenarios, but will look more like a shower of meteors", said the CMSEO article.

The 40-foot long space station will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere between April 1 and April 2, 2018 as per the Universal Time Coordinated (UTC).

In contrast, Russian Federation brought down its massive Mir space station through a controlled re-entry over the Pacific Ocean in 2001.

Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist at Australian National University, said Tiangong 1's re-entry was "mostly successful" and that it would have been better if the space station had not been spinning toward Earth. 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.

Beijing began its manned spaceflight programme in 1990 after buying Russian technology that enabled it to become the third country with the ability to launch humans into space, following the former Soviet Union and the United States.

Scientists had earlier said it might be possible to see the spacecraft burn up in a "series of fireballs streaking across the sky".

"It's that interaction with the outermost part of the atmosphere of the Earth that is going to trigger it to finally come down", said Perlman.

The space station has been slowing down and when it can't go fast enough to stay in orbit, it will reenter the earth's atmosphere.

Shenzhou 9 launched on June 16, 2012, with three astronauts, including China's first female astronaut, fighter pilot Liu Yang.

An abandoned Chinese space station is falling to Earth and it could hit as early as this weekend. It has been visited by two crewed missions. China's space program remains highly secretive and some experts have complained that a lack of information about Tiangong 1′s design has made it harder to predict what might happen upon its re-entry.

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