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Home / Science / Tiangong 1, China's abandoned space laboratory, is racing toward Earth for re-entry

Tiangong 1, China's abandoned space laboratory, is racing toward Earth for re-entry



BEIJING – China's stalemate and reportedly out of control The Tiangong 1 space station is due to 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 on re-entry into the city, though space agencies are not sure when and where that will happen.

Below are some questions and answers about the station, its reentry and the past and future of China's ambitious space program .

What will happen and how big is the danger?

The European Space Agency predicts that the station will re-enter the atmosphere between Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons ̵

1; an estimate that calls them "highly variable", probably because the ever changing shape of the upper atmosphere affects the speed of the Objects that fall into it.

The Chinese Agency's latest estimate restores its re-entry between Saturday and Wednesday.

Western space experts say they believe China has lost control of the station. Zhu Zongpeng, chief developer of the China Space Laboratory, denied that Tiangong was out of control, but did not say what China would do to control the plane'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 across 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 will probably be survived on reentry, especially its heavier components such as the engines. The probability of a person being hit by rubble on Earth is considered to be less than one to one trillion.

"This is a big thing the size of a school bus, and most things will only burn in the atmosphere," said Mordecai-Mark Mac Low, curator of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History to CBS New York

Ren Guoqiang, spokesman for China's Defense Ministry, told reporters Thursday that Beijing has informed the United Nations and the international community about Tiangong 1's re-entry through multiple channels.

  China's March 2F Missile Carrying the

China's Long March 2F Rocket with the Tiangong 1 Module or "Heavenly Palace" blasts the Jiuquan Launcher in Gansu Province on September 29, 2011. [19659013] Getty

How widespread are man-made space junk?

Debris from satellites, space launches, and the International Space Station enter the atmosphere every few months, but it is known that only one of them was hit: an American woman, Lottie Williams, who was diagnosed with a 1997 training in an Oklahoma Park hit piece of a US delta II missile, but was not injured.

The most well-known was the 1979 77-tonne Skylab in the atmosphere of wreckage near the southwestern Australian city of Perth, which punished the $ 400 for littering.

The collapse 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 hurt.

In 2011, NASA's Upper Atmosphere 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 raised grave concern after it had used a rocket to destroy an out-of-service Chinese satellite in 2007, creating a large and potentially dangerous debris cloud.

  china-tiangong-1.jpg

An illustration of an artist of the Tiangong-1 space laboratory in Earth orbit.

China Manned Space Engineering Bureau

What is Tiangong 1 and what was it used for?

Launched in 2011, Tiangong 1 was China's first space station to serve as a test platform for major projects such as the Tiangong 2, launched in September 2016, as a future permanent Chinese space station.

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

The station had two modules, one for their solar panels and motors and one for a pair of astronauts, where they could live and perform experiments. A third astronaut slept in the Shenzhou spacecraft docking at the station, which also included personal hygiene and food preparation equipment.

How advanced is China's space program?

Since China's first manned mission in 2003 – after Russia and the US, only the third country – it has embarked on increasingly ambitious projects of spacewalking and landing its Jade Rabbit Rover on the Moon.

China is now operating the Tiangong 2 precursor space station, while the 20 ton core module of the base station is expected to be launched this year. The completed 60-tonne station is expected to go into operation in 2022 and operate for at least a decade.

China was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station, mainly due to US legislation prohibiting such cooperation and concerns over the strong military ties of the Chinese space program. China's space program is still very secret, and some experts have complained that a lack of information about Tiangong 1's design made it harder to predict what might happen when it rejoins.

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

  china-tianzhou-tiangong-docking.jpg "srcset =" https://cbsnews1.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2017/02/15/e73e026f-6394-491f-9a3f-7fa79e7efd23/resize/ 620x / 03173bac2b715491d60941e982c98241 / china-tianzhou-tiangong-docking.jpg 1x "/> </span><figcaption>
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Picture of the artist showing China's Tianzhou-1 freighter dock with the currently orbiting Tiangong-2 space laboratory.

CMSE

Michigan EOC oversees Re-Entry of Chinese Space Station

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has launched the State Emergency Operations Center to monitor the re-entry of China's Tiangong-1 Space Station into the Earth's atmosphere

19659002] Aerospace Corp. says it could land along a strip of US that includes the southern lower peninsula of Michigan.

Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Michigan's Deputy Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, says, "The chances are low that the debris will end up in Michigan, but the state monitors the situation and is ready to respond quickly." 19659002] The EOC says that suspicious space debris should be considered dangerous.


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