Technology China space lab may fall to Earth later: European Space Agency

18:45  31 march  2018
18:45  31 march  2018 Source:   AFP

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The European Space Agency (ESA) has issued a new re-entry forecast for China 's Tiangong-1 space lab . The 8.5-ton spacecraft is now expected to fall into Earth 's atmosphere between March 24 and April 19, though ESA officials stressed that this is a rough estimate.

The European Space Agency (ESA) says it estimates that a Chinese spacecraft will fall back into Earth ’s atmosphere sometime between March 29 and April 9. It says, however, “this is highly variable.”

The Tiangong-1 space lab is expected to make a fiery plunge back to Earth by Monday. © Provided by AFP The Tiangong-1 space lab is expected to make a fiery plunge back to Earth by Monday. China's defunct space lab could hurtle back to Earth later than previously forecast, with the European Space Agency saying it may re-enter the atmosphere as late as Monday morning GMT. 

The ESA, which is tracking the craft, had earlier given a window of between midday Saturday and early Sunday afternoon GMT.

Chinese authorities have said the roughly eight-tonne Tiangong-1 is unlikely to cause any damage when it comes down and that its fiery disintegration will offer a "splendid" show akin to a meteor shower.  The abandoned craft is expected to make its plunge between Sunday afternoon and early Monday morning GMT, the ESA said in a blog post announcing its revised forecast.

A Chinese Space Lab is Going to Fall to Earth — And Nobody Knows Where It Will Land

  A Chinese Space Lab is Going to Fall to Earth — And Nobody Knows Where It Will Land Chinese space lab Tiangong-1 (or “heavenly palace”) is set to fall back to Earth some time at the end of March or beginning of April. The catch: It’s unclear where it will fall. Load Error The 19,000-pound space lab — China’s precursor to a space station, according to NPR — was decommissioned and de-orbited in 2016, after being in use for nearly five years, Popular Mechanics reported. It has been replaced with Tiangong-2.Tiangong-1’s fall to Earth is different from that of other space debris, which often have a controlled burn through the atmosphere and land in the ocean.

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The European Space Agency (ESA) says it estimates that a Chinese spacecraft will fall back into Earth 's atmosphere sometime between March 29 and April 9. It says, however, "this is highly variable."

In its update on Saturday the agency said calmer space weather was now expected as a high-speed stream of solar particles did not cause an increase in the density of the upper atmosphere, as previously expected. Such an increase in density would have pulled the spacecraft down sooner, it said.

The re-entry window remains "highly variable," the ESA cautioned. There is similar uncertainty about where debris from the lab could land. But there is "no need for people to worry" the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) said earlier on its WeChat social media account. Such falling spacecraft do "not crash into the Earth fiercely like in sci-fi movies, but turn into a splendid (meteor shower) and move across the beautiful starry sky as they race towards the Earth," it said.

Chinese space lab Tiangong-1 to fall to Earth within days

  Chinese space lab Tiangong-1 to fall to Earth within days An out-of-control Chinese space lab, the Tiangong-1, is expected to fall to Earth within days, according to the latest estimate from the European Space Agency (ESA), which is monitoring its descent. The ESA's Space Debris Office said that the re-entry window for the Tiangong-1 space station was between March 30 and April 2 although it warned the estimate was "highly variable." While posing minimal risk to humans, the uncontrolled re-entry of the space lab is a blot on China's ambitious space program. The 8.5 ton Tiangong-1 "ceased functioning" on March 16, 2016, China told the United Nations in May 2017, without specifying why.

China ’s Tiangong-1 space lab will likely fall to Earth between March 30 and April 2, according to the latest prediction by the European Space Agency ’s (ESA) Space Debris Office in Darmstadt, Germany. China 's Big Tiangong-1 Space Lab May Fall to Earth This Month.

Later that year the agency predicted the lab would fall to Earth in late 2017. In May 2017, China told the United Nations the lab would land between October that year and April 2018 (pdf). The European Space Agency says the lab could fall somewhere between the latitudes of 43ºN and 43ºS

Tiangong-1 — or "Heavenly Palace" — was placed in orbit in September 2011 and had been slated for a controlled re-entry, but it ceased functioning in March 2016 and space enthusiasts have been bracing for its fiery return since.

The ESA said the lab will make an "uncontrolled re-entry" as ground teams are no longer able to fire its engines or thrusters for orbital adjustments. A Chinese spaceflight engineer, however, denied earlier this year that it was out of control.

China will step up efforts to coordinate with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs as the re-entry nears, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters on Friday. Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar space program as a symbol of the country's rise. It plans to send a manned mission to the moon in the future. China sent another lab, Tiangong-2, into orbit in September 2016 as a stepping stone to its goal of having a crewed space station by 2022. 

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  China’s Space Station May Crash to Earth on April Fools’ Day <p>China’s first space station, Tiangong-1, abandoned and out of control, is expected to drop out of orbit around this weekend, with pieces of it likely to survive the fiery re-entry and crash somewhere on Earth.</p>China’s first space station, Tiangong-1, abandoned and out of control, is expected to drop out of orbit around this weekend, with pieces of it likely to survive the fiery re-entry and crash somewhere on Earth.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has issued a new re-entry forecast for China 's Tiangong-1 space lab . The 8.5-ton spacecraft is now expected to fall into Earth 's atmospherebetween March 24 and April 19, though ESA officials stressed that this is a rough estimate.

The Tiangong-1 was part of China 's ambitious space programme, and the prototype for a manned station in 2022. It was put into orbit in 2011 and five years later completed its mission, after which it was expected to fall back to Earth .

'Spectacular show'

During the re-entry, atmospheric drag will rip away solar arrays, antennas and other external components at an altitude of around 100 kilometers (60 miles), according to the Chinese space office.

The intensifying heat and friction will cause the main structure to burn or blow up, and it should disintegrate at an altitude of around 80 kilometers, it said.

Most fragments will dissipate in the air and a small amount of debris will fall relatively slowly before landing across hundreds of square kilometers, most likely in the ocean, which covers more than 70 percent of the Earth's surface.

Experts have downplayed any concerns about the Tiangong-1 causing any damage when it hurtles back to Earth, with the ESA noting that nearly 6,000 uncontrolled re-entries of large objects have occurred over the past 60 years without harming anyone.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, estimates that Tiangong-1 is the 50th most massive uncontrolled re-entry of an object since 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the world's first artificial satellite.

At an altitude of 60-70 kilometers, debris will begin to turn into "a series of fireballs," which is when people on the ground will "see a spectacular show," he said.



Scientists hope harpoons can skewer space junk crisis .
A European satellite launched this week to try out ways of tackling the growing amount of garbage in space will use technology as familiar to the ancient Romans as astronauts - nets and harpoons. Engineers who have designed and created harpoons for two pioneering space debris clearing projects said the appeal of such time-tested concepts was their simplicity."The irony is not lost on us," said Alastair Wayman, an advanced projects engineer at Airbus Space in the southern English town of Stevenage.

Source: http://us.pressfrom.com/news/science-and-technology/-131801-china-space-lab-may-fall-to-earth-later-european-space-agency/

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