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China's abandoned space lab is racing toward Earth for re-entry



BEIJING – It is expected that China's decommissioned and allegedly out-of-control Tiangong 1

space station will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere sometime this weekend. It poses little risk to people and property on the ground, as most of the 8.5-tonne bus vehicle is burned upon re-entry into the city, although space agencies are not sure when and where that will happen [19659005] Below are some questions and answers about the station, its reentry and the past and future of China's ambitious space program.

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WHAT IS PRESENT AND HOW BIG IS THE DANGER?

The European Space Agency predicts that the station will re-enter the atmosphere between Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon – an estimate called "highly variable," probably because the ever-changing shape of the upper atmosphere is the speed of it influences incident objects. [19659005] The Chinese Space Agency's most recent estimate is its re-entry between Saturday and Wednesday.

Western space experts say they believe China has lost control of the station. Zhu Zongpeng, China's Chief Space Laboratory, denied that Tiangong was out of control, but did not specify what China would do to control the ship's re-entry.

Based on the orbit of Tiangong 1, it will come to Earth somewhere between latitudes 43 degrees North and 43 degrees South, or about anywhere over most of the United States, China, Africa, Southern Europe, Australia and South America. Out of reach are Russia, Canada and Northern Europe.

Due to its size, only about 10 percent of the spacecraft is likely to be survived on reentry, especially its heavier components such as the engines. The likelihood that someone will be hit by rubble on Earth is considered less than one to one trillion.

Ren Guoqiang, Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesman, told reporters on Thursday that Beijing has informed the United Nations and the international community about Tiangongs 1

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HOW TOGETHER IS MAN-MADE SPACE DEBRIS?

Debris from satellites, space launches and the International Space Station enters the atmosphere every few months, but only one person is known American Lottie Williams, who died in 1997 in an Oklahoma Park from a falling piece of a US Delta II Rocket hit, but was not hurt, crashed.

America's 77-ton Skylab crashed most famously through the atmosphere in 1979, wreckage near the southwestern Australian city of Perth, which distributed the $ 400 for littering.

The separation on the reentry of the Columbia Space Shuttle in 2003 killed all seven astronauts and sent more than 80,000 pieces of debris to a large strip of southern United States. No one on the ground was injured.

In 2011, the NASA Atmospheric Research Satellite was considered a slight public risk when it came to Earth 20 years after its launch. Wreckage of the 6-ton satellite landed in the Pacific Ocean and caused no damage.

China's own space program was a matter of grave concern after it had used a rocket to destroy a Chinese satellite out of service in 2007 and a potentially dangerous debris cloud.

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WHAT IS TIANGONG 1 AND WHAT IT WAS USED FOR?

Tiangong 1 was launched in 2011 and was China's first space station, which launched as a trial platform for larger projects such as the Tiangong 2 in September 2016 and a future permanent Chinese space station.

The station, whose name translates as "Heavenly Palace", hosted two manned missions that included China's first female astronaut and served as a testing platform for perfecting docking and other operations. The last crew left in 2013 and the contact was interrupted in 2016. Since then, it has been increasingly observed from Earth while being monitored.

The station had two modules, one for their solar cells and motors, and one for an astronaut couple to live in and perform experiments. A third astronaut slept in the Shenzhou spacecraft docking at the station, which also included personal hygiene and food preparation facilities.

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HOW ADVANCES CHINA'S ROOM PROGRAM

Since China's first manned mission in 2003 – after Russia and the US, only third country – it has embarked on increasingly ambitious projects, including a spacewalk and landing his rover Jade Rabbit on the moon.

China now operates the precursor space station Tiangong 2 The 20-tonne core module of the base station is to be put into operation this year. The completed 60-tonne station is scheduled to go into operation in 2022 and remain operational for at least a decade.

China was ruled out of the 420-tonne International Space Station, mainly due to US legislation that prohibits such cooperation and concerns about the Chinese military connections of the space program. China's space program is still very secretive and some experts have complained that a lack of information about Tiangong 1's design makes it harder to predict what might happen when it rejoins.

A mission to land another rover on Mars and bring back samples is planned to start in 2020. China also plans to become the first country to land a probe on the other side of the moon.

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Online:

Official Website of China Manned Space: http: //en.cmse.gov.cn/col/col1763/index.html

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.


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