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Chinese space station Tiangong 1 ends in a fiery demise

Chinese space station Tiangong 1 ends in a fiery demise

A non-operational Chinese space lab disintegrated under intense heat as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere and plunged to a watery grave in the South Pacific, Chinese officials said.

The "vast majority" of the 34-foot, 9.4-ton, school-bus-size spacecraft burned up in the atmosphere, China's space agency said in a statement, according to Reuters. "The SPOUA has always been used by many space agencies including ESA, to dispose of end-of-life spacecraft through controlled reentries", said the ESA in a blog post.

It was to be a controlled re-entry for the space station, but in late September, the Chinese authorities confirmed that the situation of its crash for the space lab is out of control.

The government, however, did not specify the reason.

Tiangong 1 was launched in 2011 and ended service in 2016 after completing its mission.

On Sunday night, April 1, it met its doom as it largely burned up upon re-entry over the Southern Pacific Ocean at 8:16 p.m. last night.

Artist's rendering of China's Tiangong-1 space station.

The Tiangong-1, measuring 10 metres long and weighing around 8.5 tonnes, was launched on September 29, 2011.




"The JFSCC works alongside government, industry and global partners to track and report reentries, to include today's Tiangong-1 reentry, because the space domain is vital to our shared worldwide security interests", Major General Stephen Whiting, of the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, said in a statement.

The amount of debris that landed on the Earth's surface still intact has not yet been determined.

Tiangong-1 was visited by two crews of taikonauts, or Chinese astronauts. That could be a problem in a future - an atmosphere more packed with spacecraft presents a (slightly) higher risk for humans on the ground. "Although it's only aimed to test the technologies for space station, it has many far-reaching effects", Mao Xinyuan, a columnist, was quoted as saying.

Still, the chance that any bit of space station would hit a person was always infinitesimal - about "1 million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot", the Aerospace Corporation, a nonprofit spaceflight-research company, wrote before the reentry. "It had helped us accumulate precious experience in constructing space station", said Huang Weifen, Deputy Chief Designer of the Astronaut Center of China.

"Tiangong-1 will go down in China's space history".

When Tiangong-1 hit the atmosphere, it was most likely traveling at about 17,000 miles per hour.

Normally, when an unshielded spacecraft re-enters the atmosphere, external parts such as the solar panels and antennas are the first victims of the atmospheric drag. There was no immediate confirmation of the final resting place of any remaining debris.

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