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Tiangong-1: Pioneer of China's space station

05 April 2018

Tiangong-1, China's out-of-control space station, fell back to Earth Monday - splashing harmlessly into the middle of the South Pacific.

The final and predicted re-entry locations as calculated by The Aerospace Corporation.

The US military's network of radars and sensors also confirmed that the Tiangong-1 had re-entered over the Pacific, but a minute later than the Chinese estimate, according to a statement by the Joint Force Space Component Command.

"One of our missions, which we remain focused on, is to monitor space and the tens of thousands of pieces of debris that congest it, while at the same time working with allies and partners to enhance spaceflight safety and increase transparency in the space domain", said Maj.

The China Manned Space Engineering Office says on its website the experimental space lab re-entered at around 8:15 a.m. Monday.

"The re-entry falling area is located in the central region of the South Pacific".

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Worldwide media hype about the re-entry reflected overseas "envy" of China's space industry, the Chinese tabloid Global Times said on Monday.

The space station formerly known as the "Heavenly Palace," originally launched in September 2011 and was viewed as a major step for the space agency in its quest to build a space station by 2020. It was about 34 feet long and weighed more than 9 tons. The date of the launch was 29 September 2011 through unmanned aboard a Long March 2F/G rocket. Created to house two astronauts at a time, it successfully docked two manned spacecrafts - the 2012 Shenzhou 9 mission that included China's first female astronaut and the 2013 Shenzhou 10 mission.

Tiangong-1 was visited by two crews of taikonauts, or Chinese astronauts. The laboratory helped paved the way for China's future space station, which the country plans to complete in 2022.

Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang at the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module.

"Most of the parts burned up and disappeared", Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters, adding that China kept the United Nations space agency informed about the situation.

At approximately 8:16 p.m. ET on Sunday, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1's orbit around the planet finally decayed enough that it got caught up in the thicker air surrounding our planet. In 1979, bits of Skylab, America's first space station, re-entered and landed in Australia.

Tiangong-1: Pioneer of China's space station