Artist's illustration showing China's Tianzhou-1 freighter docking with the currently orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab. CMSE
03 April, 2018, 03:28
The eight-ton Tiangong 1 would have been dwarfed by the space shuttle Columbia, which lost control during re-entry in 2003, killing seven astronauts and spreading debris across East Texas and Louisiana. China's chief space laboratory designer, Zhu Zongpeng, has denied Tiangong was out of control, but hasn't provided specifics on what, if anything, China was doing to guide the craft's return to Earth.
Only parts made of titanium and stainless steel would withstand the heat, he said.
The China Manned Space Engineering Office says on its website the most possible re-entry time is 8:49 a.m. Monday.
Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted that it appeared to have come down north-west of Tahiti.
Authorities said the short-life space station would be traveling at around 26,000 kilometers per hour (16,000 miles per hour), it would mostly disintegrate, and therefore it was unlikely any large pieces would reach the ground.
Scott Neuman of NPR said, "The 34-foot-long, 18,000 pound Tiangong-1, or "Heavenly Palace-1" was launched in 2011 as China's first attempt at an orbiting space lab". With a designated life span of two years, the spacecraft was in service for four and a half years before its retirement was announced by the Chinese space authorities in March 2016.
As NPR's Scott Neuman noted in our earlier reporting, the "space lab" was part of China's planned research as it works toward a permanently staffed space station.
China also plans to put a man on the moon and send a rover to Mars. It was launched in 2011 and docked with three Chinese spacecraft.
China's Tiangong-1 space lab re-entered the Earth's atmosphere around 8.15 a.m. Monday (8:15 p.m. ET Sunday) in a fiery fall, China's Manned Space Agency said.
Experts have downplayed any concerns about the Tiangong-1 causing any damage when it hurtles back to Earth, with the ESA noting that almost 6,000 uncontrolled re-entries of large objects have occurred over the past 60 years without harming anyone.
Worldwide space authorities say it is unlikely to cause any damage and it should have already disintegrated by the time it nears earth.
Launched in 1986, the Mir station was once a proud symbol of Soviet success in space, despite a series of high-profile accidents and technical problems. The tracking of space agencies around the world is done by radar.
Ingraham said the vacation was timed to Easter Sunday, and teased a "great" lineup of guest hosts over the next week. On Thursday, after at least two companies had taken action, Ingraham apologized in a series of tweets.
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EDT Sunday, April 1, with a 14-hour margin of error in either direction, according to The Aerospace Corp. of El Segundo, Calif. Tiangong is certainly on the large size for uncontrolled re-entry objects but it is far from being the biggest, historically.
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