The Tiangong-1 was used for both types of space missions – manned as well as unmanned and was visited by Liu Yang, China’s first female astronaut in 2012.
Chinese space agency referred its space station as the “Heavenly Palace, ” and it was launched with a hope to make China a superpower in space.
Last year, Chinese officials revealed they had lost control of it, and that it would hit Earth within two years. According to British Guardian newspaper Michael Slazak, station’s orbit is stable It breaks down by weakening.
The space station’s orbit has been decaying steadily since losing contact and in recent times it has reached into dense parts of the Earth’s atmosphere and has started falling faster.
Although much of the craft is expected to burn up in the atmosphere, McDowell says some parts might still weigh up to 100kg when they crash into the Earth’s surface. Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist from Harvard University, told The Guardianthat he expected it to land in late 2017 or early 2018. These parts are unlikely to harm people, but China said in May that United Nations will continue to monitor decline of station in a statement to Committee on Peaceful use of outer space.
As per the Guardian’s report, in 2016, Jonathan McDowell had opined that it would be impossible to locate the exact point where the space station will land.
“You really can’t steer these things”, he said in 2016.
He also said that “we probably won’t know better than six or seven hours, plus or minus, when it’s going to come down”.
As McDowell said, even a trivial change in the atmosphere could push the landing site of the Chinese space station “from one continent to the next”. “Not knowing when it’s going to come down translates as not knowing where it’s going to come down”, he said.
This isn’t the first time that man-made space debris has had uncontrolled fall, but there haven’t been any reported injuries.
In 1991 the Soviet Union’s 20-tonne Salyut 7 space station crashed to Earth while still docked to another 20-tonne spacecraft called Cosmos 1686. NASA’s 77-tonne Skylab space station has had uncontrolled fall back in 1979 and some of the large pieces landed outside of Perth, Australia.