At a press conference last Wednesday, Chinese officials confirmed that their space agency has lost control of the space station, called Tiangong 1 and will fall back to Earth at some point in late 2017.
China launched this prototype space station back in September 2011. It was only designed to operate for two years and it has been orbiting the planet for about 5 years now. more than twice the planned duration.
Tiangong 1 was visited by a series of Shenzhou spacecraft during its two-year operational lifetime. The last crew to visit Tiangong 1 departed in June 2013 and at that time it was in sleep mode.
Tiangong 1 stopped sending data back to Earth in March 2016 after two years of extended lifespan, officially ending the space lab’s mission.
“Based on our calculation and analysis, most parts of the space lab will burn up during falling,” Wu Ping, deputy director of the manned space engineering office, said at the press conference.
According to the source, most of the parts of the space station will burn up in the atmosphere. But It could be a real bad day if pieces of this came down in a populated area…
Meanwhile, China’s Tiangong-2 (Heavenly Palace 2) space station launched last week on September 15 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center located in the Gobi desert.