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Tiangong-1 room lab: On fire: fiery ends for spaceships



PEKING: China's vacant Tiangong-1 space laboratory will expect a fiery re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere in the coming days and dissolve, promising the Chinese government to become a "great" show.

The reentry of the nearly eight-ton Tiangong-1 is not very threatening, officials and experts say, and much larger objects have fallen back to earth at the end of their missions or in accidents, without serious damage to the surface.

Here are the largest spaceships that disintegrated when they crashed back to earth:

The Mir Station, launched in 1986, was once a proud symbol of Soviet space success, despite a series of high-profile accidents and technical problems.

But the Russian authorities, which had cost money after the collapse of the Soviet Union, decided in the late 1

990s to abandon the outpost in orbit and devote their resources to the International Space Station.

The massive 140-tonne station was toppled by the Russian Space Agency across the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and Chile, and its burning debris swept across the skies over Fiji.

Salyut 7, launched in 1982, was the last orbiting laboratory under the Soviet Salyut program.

When the Mir space station was launched in 1986, the Soviet space agencies increased Salyut 7 to a higher orbit and left it there.

It was to remain in orbit until 1994, but an unexpected increase in air resistance through the Earth's atmosphere caused a collapse in 1991.

The 40-ton station was disbanded upon reentry and the surviving parts dispersed across Argentina.

Skylab was the first American space station, which was launched in 1973 by NASA and was manned until 1974.

There were proposals to renew it later in the decade, but the lab's orbit began to decay and NASA had to prepare for their re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere with only a partial check where it would come down.

The 85-ton Skylab descent across Australia was a worldwide media event, with several newspapers offering thousands of dollars to people who hold parts of the landed station.

The disintegration of large spaceships was not always without tragedy.

In 2003, the NASA Space Shuttle Columbia broke up on reentry into the atmosphere at the end of the STS-107 mission, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

The left wing of Columbia was damaged by a piece of debris during takeoff, so the shuttle could not withstand the extreme temperatures of reentry.

The burning wreckage of the 80-ton airplane was spotted by local television stations across the sky over the southern United States, with tens of thousands of doomed shuttle parts scattered across Texas and Louisiana.


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