China’s space station on a freefall
- Debris to enter earth atmosphere in 2017
The Chinese space agency officials confirmed that they lost control of its first space station Tiangong-1 and is on a free fall to the Earth.
The Tiangong-1 or “Heavenly Palace” station was launched in 2011 as a part of an ambitious scientific push to turn China into a space superpower.
As news reports suggest, the exact reasons for free fall is not known, but space experts speculate that it suffered some kind of technical or mechanical failure.
Space station is 8.5 ton module and has been orbiting the planet for about 5 years, but recently it was decommissioned and the Chinese astronauts returned to the surface.
In a press conference last week, Wu Ping, deputy director of the manned space engineering said that the space station has “comprehensively fulfilled its historical mission” to collect data and the station has now retired after making “important contributions” to China’s space aspirations.
“Based on our calculation and analysis, most parts of the space lab will burn up during falling,” the official said, adding that the Tiangong-1 is currently intact and is orbiting at a height of approximately 370 kilometers.
The debris of the space station is expected re-enter the earth’s atmosphere in the second half of 2017.
According to space experts, it would be impossible to predict when and where the debris from the space station will land and slight changes in atmospheric conditions could nudge the landing site “from one continent to the next”. Most parts of the space station will melt in atmosphere but some parts wouldn’t burn up completely. These remains could pose damage to the inhabited areas.
Normally, any decommissioned space stations or satellites are forced to burn in the atmosphere over oceans to avoid endangering people.