China’s Tiangong-1 space station could be headed towards Earth, says reports. According to Space.com – satellite trackers are of the view that Tiangong-1 has lost control and is on a trajectory back to Earth.
The 8-ton space lab and testbed, is one of only two space stations – the other being the ISS (International Space Station). The observations of its gradual fall were made by amateur satellite tracker, Thomas Dorman. Dorman has been documenting flyovers of satellites using telescopes, videos and still cameras, along with some other gear.
Tiangong-1, also known as “Heavenly Palace” was launched in 2011, and was scheduled to de-orbit in September 2013.
The China Manned Space Engineering (CMSE) office announced in March 2016 that Tiangong’s data-gathering activities were terminated and the space station had lost telemetry link – dooming the satellite to an uncontrolled fall in the future, according to an official Chinese news agency report. It was launched with a life of two years.
The Chinese space authorities have not clarified when the Tiangong will make its re-entry in to Earth’s atmosphere, even though its operational life is over.
Experts have cautioned that such speculations do not confirm that Tiangong is definitely out of control. China is unlikely to give an official confirmation on this. Interestingly the country is planning to launch Tiangong-1’s successor, Tiangong-2 this September.