Home » News » News Roundup » New Roundup » World News » Defunct China space lab to become celestial fireball

Defunct China space lab to become celestial fireball

FILE - In this June 13, 2013, file image released by China's Xinhua News Agency, the Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft is seen while conducting docking with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space module.  (Beijing Aerospace Control Center/Xinhua via AP, File)

FILE – In this June 13, 2013, file image released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, the Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft is seen while conducting docking with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space module. (Beijing Aerospace Control Center/Xinhua via AP, File)

BEIJING, China (AFP) – A defunct space laboratory is set to become a celestial fireball as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere in the next 24 hours, China’s space authority said yesterday, hitting speeds of over 26,000 kilometers an hour before disintegrating.

The Tiangong-1 is expected to make an uncontrolled Earth-bound plunge yesterday Beijing time, China Manned Space said in a statement, an estimate roughly in line with European Space Agency projections.

The abandoned eight-ton craft is unlikely to cause any damage when it comes down, but its fiery disintegration will offer a “splendid” show akin to a meteor shower, Chinese authorities said previously.

The re-entry window remains “highly variable” and the debris from the lab could land anywhere between the latitudes of 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south – from New Zealand to the American Midwest, the ESA said.

There is “no need for people to worry,” the China Manned Space Engineering Office said earlier on its WeChat social media account.

Such falling spacecraft do “not crash into the Earth fiercely like in sci-fi movies, but turn into a splendid (meteor shower) and move across the beautiful starry sky as they race towards the Earth,” it said.

Tiangong-1 – or “Heavenly Palace” – was placed in orbit in September 2011, an important step in China’s efforts towards building its own space station.

The module – which was used to practice complicated manual and automatic docking techniques – was originally intended to be used for just two years, but ended up serving considerably longer.

comments