Tech UPTechnologyChina's Tiangong-1 space station falls to Earth

China's Tiangong-1 space station falls to Earth

After weeks spinning towards Earth, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 has finally disintegrated in the atmosphere, and its remains have fallen in the South Pacific, at 8:15 (Chinese time) on Monday morning (2 : 15 Spanish time). Before disintegrating, the abandoned space laboratory has reached a speed of 26,000 kilometers per hour.

A re-entry to Earth that has occurred somewhat earlier than expected and “out of control”, although it has met the estimates of scientists, representing a minimal risk to humans, as expected. Analysis by the Beijing Aerospace Control Center showed that, for the most part, the object has been calcined in the atmosphere.

According to the European Space Agency, debris from the space lab should land anywhere between latitudes 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south, from the US Midwest to New Zealand. Finally, the remains have been detected several thousand kilometers northeast of New Zealand.

Video: Tiangong-1, Chinese space station, falls to Earth

In addition, the re-entry to our planet has occurred, as expected, without the slightest risk to humans, since the module has almost completely disintegrated : it was highly unlikely that it would survive. Previous forecasts estimated that only one in ten spacecraft the size of Tiangong-1, which weighed 8.5 tons and was the size of a bus, would withstand a re-entry to Earth.

Launched in 2011, Tiangong-1, also called the Heavenly Palace, was China’s first space station , serving as an experimental platform for larger projects, such as the Tiangong-2, launched in September 2016.

It had two modules, one for its solar panels and motors, and one for a couple of astronauts to live and conduct experiments. Two crews of Chinese astronauts lived at the station during these operations. A third astronaut slept on the Shenzhou spacecraft that docked with the station, which also contained facilities for personal hygiene and food preparation.

His last team left in 2013 and returned to Earth in 2016. Since then, it has remained abandoned, and orbiting ever closer to Earth.

Considering that it was originally designed for a mission of only two years, the useful life of this module has been relatively long.

On average, every week a satellite burns in our atmosphere

The Tiangong-1 is not the first space module to enter our planet out of control.

In fact, according to the European Space Agency, every week, on average, an inert satellite falls into our atmosphere and burns. Controlling these reentries and warning European civil authorities have become routine work for ESA’s space debris experts.

Thus, they calculate that, each year, about 100 tons of satellites , uncontrolled spacecraft, and aircraft fall.

Famous “encounters”

Although most pose no problem to Earth’s inhabitants, there were a few famous “run-ins.”

American Lottie Williams was struck by a falling piece from the US Delta II Rocket while exercising in an Oklahoma park in 1997 , although she suffered no serious trauma.

Another example: the 77-ton US Skylab crashed into the atmosphere in 1979 , scattering debris near the city of Perth in southwestern Australia.

The most curious thing is that the government of the region fined the United States 400 dollars for littering.

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