Space Station Burns Up Over South Pacific

Source NBC News

Source NBC News

The operation was in line with the space command's mission "to monitor space and the tens of thousands of pieces of debris that congest it, while at the same time working with allies and partners to enhance spaceflight safety and increase transparency in the space domain", said Maj.

"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", Scott wrote.

But China has come a long way in its race to catch up with the United States and Russian Federation, which have lost spacecraft, astronauts and cosmonauts over the decades.

The uncontrolled re-entry of the space lab has been a blot on China's space program, as it goes against global best practice.

Tiangong-1 was part of China's endevour to build its own space station to counter the current Russia's worldwide space station Mir.

Tiangong 1 was launched in 2011 and ended service in 2016 after completing its mission.

Female astronaut Wang Yaping delivered a lecture from space lab to students back on Earth.

The lab was also used for medical experiments and, most importantly, tests meant to prepare for the building of a space station. There were proposals to refurbish it later in the decade, but the lab's orbit began to decay and NASA had to prepare for its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere with only partial control over where it would come down.

The city bus-sized craft, which nearly entirely burned up as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, broke into small pieces as it plummeted over the South Pacific Ocean.

Astronauts who have visited the station have run experiments on growing rice and thale cress and docking spacecraft.

China has not been allowed to participate in the International Space Station for political reasons.

Catch up on all the latest Crime, National, International and Hatke news here. It said it plans to assemble it in space in 2020 and will become fully operational in 2022. China was deliberately left out of the International Space Station effort.

Tiangong's re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere happened somewhere north of Point Nemo, a location named in honour of Jules Verne's fictional submarine captain and which is also Latin for "no one".

The outpost will initially be controlled by artificial intelligence robots until humans are sent to occasionally manage it, the official said.

The failure forced the postponement of the launch of lunar probe Chang'e-5, originally scheduled to collect moon samples in the second half of 2017.

The "re-entry prediction window" from the European Space Agency, or ESA, had tightened significantly by Sunday morning, to a four-hour window centered on 1 a.m. UTC on Monday.

While Beijing had decided there was little value in deploying a team to salvage the remains of Tiangong-1, there had been occasions when it was deemed necessary, the scientist said.

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