If the Chinese space station Tiangong-1, whose fall is expected this Sunday, had remained under control, it would have joined other space objects in the “space objects graveyard” at Point Nemo, the most isolated place on Earth. Point Nemo is situated in the middle of Pacific and is at a distance of about 1,600 miles from the Ducie Island, the closest land.
“It is off the coast of Antarctica, New Zealand, Pitcairn Islands, and Chile,” says Stijn Lemmens of the Space Debris Office at ESA, in Darmstadt. This place, lost in the middle of the Pacific, is called “the pole of inaccessibility” or Point Nemo in tribute to the captain imagined by Jules Verne.
In addition, Point Nemo is a place that seems to harbor some fauna and flora, according to Stijn Lemmens. “So it’s used as a dump, or ‘space graveyard’ to use a more polite term,” says the ESA specialist.
The Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will not join the others at Point Nemo
This space objects graveyard has already hosted about 300 spacecraft at the end of their lives. However, the most famous remains, to date, the Soviet space station MIR.
“Today, it is often used for the cargo ships that supply the International Space Station (ISS),” says Stijn Lemmens. However, the ISS will join other human-made space objects in the space graveyard at Point Nemo, in 2024.
But even if the area is particularly deserted, when a spacecraft is set to fall at Point Nemo, the air traffic and sea traffic in the are is banned.
The Chinese space station, Tiangong-1, which is due to disintegrate on this Sunday in the Earth’s atmosphere, was supposed to make a controlled return to Point Nemo but stopped responding to commands and is expected to fall freely on Earth but nobody knows where, yet. Definitely, not at Point Nemo, the space objects graveyard, which holds the MIR station and will also welcome the ISS in 2024.