China says space station to re-enter atmosphere off Brazil coast

China says space station to re-enter atmosphere off Brazil coast

China says space station to re-enter atmosphere off Brazil coast

However, the ESA had predicted that Tiangong-1 would probably break up over water. But, in September 2016, the Chinese space officials informed that they have lost control over Tinagong-1 as the space module got disconnected from the mission control team.

The spacecraft - about the size of a city bus - nearly entirely burned up on its entrance to the Earth's atmosphere, breaking into small pieces as it fell over the South Pacific Ocean, NPR reports.

The Chinese space module Tiangong-1 was launched on October 1, 2011, aboard a Long March rocket from the Gobi Desert, to carry out docking and orbit experiments in space. It was only possible to predict a few hours before the impact.

The space station first launched in 2011, but ended its active life as an experimental space station after the second of two crews left it in 2013. A defunct Chinese space lab plunged through Earth's atmosphere on April 2, 2018, breaking apart as it headed towards a watery grave in the South Pacific, Beijing said.

"The [Joint Force Space Component Command] used the Space Surveillance Network sensors and their orbital analysis system to confirm Tiangong-1's re-entry, and to refine its prediction and ultimately provide more fidelity as the re-entry time approached", U.S. Air Force wrote on its website. He said Tiangong-1's landing site in the Pacific Ocean represents "kind of where you hope it would". Its goal was to test docking technologies and other skills China needed to fine-tune before establishing a permanent space station, planned for the early 2020s. Earlier, Chinese space officials had promised that the disintegration of the 10.4-meter-long spacelab, upon re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere would offer a "splendid" show akin to a meteor shower. In 1979, bits of Skylab, America's first space station, re-entered and landed in Australia.

The European Space Agency had described the probability of someone being hit by debris from Tiangong-1 as "10 million times smaller than the yearly chance of being hit by lightning". The larger pieces could also cause damage to other objects in orbit, like satellites or the International Space Station.

The main body and the solar panels of the Tiangong-1 Chinese space station are visible in this radar image taken while the spacecraft was still orbiting Earth.

It hosted China's first woman astronaut, Liu Yang of the Shenzhou IX mission.

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