SEP 22, 2016 09:00 AM PDT

China's Tiangong-1 Space Lab is Out of Control and Headed for Earth

There have been credible reports that China had lost control of its Tiangong-1 space lab, which is orbiting the Earth about 230 miles above its surface, since the middle of the year. But, as it becomes more of a hazard, experts continue to keep an eye on it and track its every move.
 

China's Tiangong-1 space lab is now headed on a crash course back to Earth, and we aren't sure exactly when or where this will occur.

 
China officials have now officially acknowledged that the space lab is out of control, and expects it will make a natural re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere sometime in the later half of next year. As you can imagine, this is making some people uneasy.
 
In case you’re unaware of what “natural re-entry” means, it basically means there’s no telling when or where the 8.5-ton space lab will land. It’s not being landed in a controlled manner; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s going to do whatever it’s going to do and there’s nothing we can do about it.
 
It could land safely in the ocean, or it could land in the middle of a high-population city. There’s just no telling at this point in time.
 
Fortunately, Chinese officials believe “most” of the satellite will probably burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere during re-entry, but not all of it. This factor of uncertainty, paired with not knowing where it might land, is what’s causing all the fear and worry.
 
“You really can’t steer these things,” Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell said. “Even a couple of days before it re-enters we probably won’t know better than six or seven hours, plus or minus, when it’s going to come down. Not knowing when it’s going to come down translates as not knowing where it’s going to come down.”

“There will be lumps of about 100kg or so, still enough to give you a nasty wallop if it hit you,” he continued.
 
For what it’s worth, the Earth is about 71% water, so there’s a higher chance of whatever’s left of the space lab crashing down in a body of water or a deserted area somewhere than landing in a heavily populated area. The chances someone will be injured in this landing are fairly low, especially if experts keep a close eye on its.
 
China launched Tiangong-2, meaning “Heavenly Palace 2,” on September 15th, 2016 in an attempt to breathe new life into the country’s space-based test facility initiative. China expects to expand its space lab into a full-blown facility like the International Space Station in coming years.
 
Source: The Guardian via Independent

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 29, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 29, 2018
Ever Wonder How Long it Takes to Get to Mars? Watch This
Sending missions to Mars isn’t as easy as it may seem at first glance. The solar system is continuously shifting as planets orbit the Sun, so it&rsqu...
SEP 05, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 05, 2018
Saturn's Atmospheric Hexagon May Tower Higher Than Initially Thought
Although NASA’s Cassini mission ended almost one full year ago, researchers continue to analyze the stream of data the spacecraft beamed back to us b...
SEP 24, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 24, 2018
Earth's History May Hold Clues About Where to Look for Otherworldly Vegetation
Astronomers restlessly search for distant exoplanets, not only because they can teach us more about the planet we live on, but also because they may contai...
OCT 15, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 15, 2018
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is Back Up and Running
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory was recently kicked into safe mode following a mysterious anomaly. Spacecraft engineers have been working around the...
NOV 04, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 04, 2018
Roscosmos Discerns Cause of Faulty Soyuz Launch, Expects to Resume Launches
Just last month, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft poised to send an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut to the International Space Station failed mid-flig...
NOV 18, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 18, 2018
International Space Station Receives Fresh Supplies From Back-to-Back Rocket Launches
Both the United States and Russian space agencies share the burden of sending fresh food, fuel, and supplies to the International Space Station every few m...
Loading Comments...