The ESA’s (European Space Agency) space residues bureau has released on February 21st its prediction on the re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere of the Chinese space lab station Tiangong. Accordingly, the first Chinese space lab is expected to fall on Earth somewhen between March 24th and April 19th. However, the ESA came up with an update and said the first Chinese space lab station will fall on Earth this month.
Still, the specialists are talking about a statistical issue and things are constantly changing due to solar activity, station’s direction changes, and so forth. However, the 8.5-ton Chinese space lab is expected to fall on Earth somewhere between 43 degrees north latitude and 43 degrees south latitude.
The Chinese space agency lost the control over the space lab in 2016
In September 2011, propelled by a 2F/G rocket from the Jiuquan base, the Chinese space lab Tiangong 1 was launched. China’s orbiting space lab was flying in December 2015 between 300 and 400 km altitude above Earth on a 42.8-degree trajectory.
However, in March 2016, the station became uncontrollable, and the initial plan to force-land the space lab in the South Pacific, powered by onboard engines, had to be canceled by Chinese engineers who only decided to inform their international space partners about the situation.
Since then, the altitude of the Chinese space lab station has decreased steadily, and today Tiangong 1 is at below the 279-kilometer altitude.
China plans on building a space station able to hold humans
The Tiangong 1 mission was a test one conducted by the Chinese space agency in order to enhance and master the necessary technologies for constructing a Chinese space station that can hold a human crew.
Chinese space agency has the goal of creating and launching the first human-operated space station by 2020 but, until now, only two human missions have been launched from Chinese soil, namely, the Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10 (launched in 2012 and, respectively, in 2013).
In the meantime, the Chinese space engineers expect the first Chinese space lab station to burn into the Earth’s atmosphere.