Defunct Chinese space lab plunges back to Earth

Chinese authorities have said the roughly eight-tonne Tiangong-1 is unlikely to cause any damage when it comes down and that its fiery disintegration will offer a “splendid” show akin to a meteor shower

Tiangong 1, China's fallen space station, is now in pieces somewhere on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, but it's hardly the last spacecraft that will plunge to earth.

The Tiangong-1 mostly burned up above the vast ocean's central region at 8.15am Beijing time, said the China Manned Space Engineering Office. Gerald McKeegan and Conrad Jung spent the afternoon reviewing the data that monitored the space station's whereabouts.

On March 2016, the Chinese National Space Administration announced they had lost all contact with the now defunct station, and, therefore, were unable to alter its orbit or control its reentry. "In some ways it's like watching meteors in the sky except this one was created by humans", Jung said. Most parts of Tiangong-1 were burned up in the re-entry process as the remaining debris landed over the South Pacific, added the report. "That's the downside of it coming down over the ocean".

"Tiangong-1 has carried millions of Chinese' space dream".

The literal fall of Tiangong-1 has always been tracked and anticipated, first noticed by an amateur satellite tracker in 2016, months before the Chinese government acknowledged that their space lab would come crashing back down from its uncontrolled orbit.

Chinese state media is reporting that the majority of the spacecraft burnt up and it slammed into the atmosphere at high speed, but that chunks of the 10.4m (34.1ft) by 3.4m (11ft) space station made it down to the surface of the planet. The Chinese space company said it ought to occur over the span of Monday Beijing time. It was only possible to predict a few hours before the impact.

While China always meant to let Tiangong-1 enter the atmosphere, the space authority extended the station's mission several times.

Multiple agencies issued predictions of the time of Tiangong-1's end, most concluding that April 1 was the most likely date.

It was not immediately clear if the remains of the space station, known as Tiangong-1, had been accounted for.

In the months leading up to its reentry, experts stressed that the chances of being hit and injured by the space station's falling debris were extremely slim. It was occupied by two Chinese astronauts from the Shenzhou XI mission in October and November of that year. Objects in low Earth orbit need the occasional boost to maintain their orbit - otherwise, those orbits eventually decay until the objects hit Earth's atmosphere.

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