China says space station to re-enter atmosphere off Brazil coast

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Launched in 2011 to carry out docking and orbit experiments, Tiangong-1 was part of China's ambitious plan to build a manned space station by 2022. Its goal was to test docking technologies and other skills China needed to fine-tune before establishing a permanent space station, planned for the early 2020s. The re-entry of the 10 meter-long space station was said to have occurred in the Pacific Ocean. While they expected most of the derelict station to burn up as it entered the atmosphere, there was concern that small pieces that survived reentry could cause damage if they fell in a populated area.

China's Tiangong-1 space laboratory is now in the history books after it burned up nearly entirely on re-entry above the southern Pacific Ocean.

Reports of an out-of-control space station hurtling towards Earth may sound like a bad April Fools' prank.

With the odds of any one person being struck by space debris at 70 million-to-one, the chances that it would actually hurt a human were pretty remote.

The "vast majority" of the 34-foot, 9.4-ton, school-bus-size spacecraft burned up in the atmosphere, China's space agency said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Multiple agencies issued predictions of the time of Tiangong-1's end, most concluding that April 1 was the most likely date.

The corporation, which provides technical support for the space industry, had not been in touch with the Chinese side about the re-entry, Thompson said.

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Its name Tiangong-1, or "Heavenly Palace-1", speaks for a dream home the Chinese have long envisioned in the sky.

In September 2016, China launched its new space laboratory, the Tiangong-2, which hosted its first manned mission with two astronauts on board between October and November, Efe news reported.

But China wound up extending Tiangong-1's time in orbit, perhaps as a stop-gap measure in case Tiangong-2 didn't make it up in time. It was occupied by two separate crews of three astronauts, or taikonauts, each - a mission in June 2012 included China's first female astronaut, Liu Yang. It shows what a cluttered mess Earth's orbit is.

When Tiangong-1 hit the atmosphere, it was most likely traveling at about 17,000 miles per hour.

Normally, when an unshielded spacecraft re-enters the atmosphere, external parts such as the solar panels and antennas are the first victims of the atmospheric drag.

And finally, a rain of whatever remained sprinkled the South Pacific, northwest of Tahiti and fairly close to Samoa.

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