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Chinese Space Lab Finally Plummets Back To Earth
04 April 2018, 12:44 | Camille Rivera
Tiangong-1 should strike Earth by early Monday, space officials say
And on November 3, 2011, Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8 accomplished the country's first automatic rendezvous and docking at a height of 343 kilometres above the Earth surface. Whatever bits of the spacecraft didn't burn up on its long descent through the atmosphere are now likely headed to their final resting place on the floor of the south Pacific.
At approximately 8:16 p.m. ET on Sunday, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1's orbit around the planet finally decayed enough that it got caught up in the thicker air surrounding our planet.
As reported by BBC, it was astronomer Jonathan McDowell who took to his Twitter account to confirm that the exact location of Tiangong-1's re-entry was towards the north-west of Tahiti, an island in the Pacific Ocean.
Despite the uncontrolled nature of the re-entry, the European Space Agency (ESA) had previously estimated that the chances of being hit by debris from Tiangong-1 were 10 million times smaller than the chance of being hit by lightning in any given year (about 1 in 1.4 million). "Most of the parts burnt up and disappeared", Geng said adding that China kept the United Nations space agency informed about the situation.
The ability of Tiangong-1 space lab module to support the work and life of astronauts, the environment control, operation and performance of the docked spacecraft and lab module were tested. Created to house two astronauts at a time, it successfully docked two manned spacecrafts - the 2012 Shenzhou 9 mission that included China's first female astronaut and the 2013 Shenzhou 10 mission.
The orbit of the Space Station declined over the course of next two years.
Experiments aboard Tiangong-1 were related to space technology and exploration, according to China's manned space engineering office.
Tiangong-1, which means "Heavenly Palace", was China's first space laboratory. The unmanned space lab was launched in September 2011 as a prototype for China's ultimate space goal: a permanent space station that is expected to launch around 2022.
"Tiangong-1 will go down in China's space history". Xinhua news agency says the window is between 8:11 a.m. and 9:33 a.m.
A mission to land another rover on Mars and bring back samples is set to launch in 2020, while China also plans to become the first country to soft-land a probe on the far side of the moon.
Prior to Tiangong-1, the largest object to fall back to Earth without any control was Salyut-2, a Soviet space station that fell out of orbit after an accident in 1973.
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