Falling Tiangong-1 will not cause damage to Earth: scientist

Updated 2018-03-13 09:47:09

China's first space lab Tiangong-1 is orbiting in stable condition and its fall will not cause damage to Earth, Chinese manned space office and scientists assured.

The space lab is expected to fall into the Earth's atmosphere in the first half of 2018 after it stopped sending data back to Earth in March 2016, officially ending its mission, the People's Daily quoted Zhu Congpeng, a top engineer at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, as saying.

China has been monitoring Tiangong-1, Zhu said, adding that the space lab will burn up after entering the atmosphere and the remaining wreckage will fall into a designated area in the sea, without endangering the earth.

According to the information issued by China's manned space engineering office on Monday, from March 4 to 11, Tiangong-1 was orbiting in stable condition at an average height of about 244.5 kilometers.

The spacecraft's orbit ranges from 43° north to 43° south, which includes vast stretches of North and South America, China, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, parts of Europe - and swaths of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the Guardian reported on Friday.

Aerospace expert Pang Zhihao told the People's Daily that an international tradition to handle retired large spacecraft operated at near-earth orbits is to let them fall to an abyssal zone in southern Pacific Ocean far away from the continents.

Called the "graveyard of spacecraft," the water was the destination for the MIR space station and Progress spacecraft of Russia, and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory of the U.S., according to Pang.

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