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Thread: China's space station 'out of control' and on crash course to Earth

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    China's space station 'out of control' and on crash course to Earth

    China's space station 'out of control' and on crash course to Earth

    ‘Natural’ re-entry to atmosphere means it is almost impossible to know where debris will land

    Harry Cockburn
    11 hours ago

    China’s first space station will meet a fiery end next year when the 8.5-tonne module comes crashing down to Earth, amid concerns authorities have lost control of the craft.

    The Tiangong-1 space station was launched in September 2011 and currently orbits Earth at an altitude of 230 miles (370km).

    But in July, amateur astronomers suggested China had “lost control” of the satellite, after Chinese media reported the country’s space agency had struggled to get in contact with it.

    Officials have now confirmed that after four and a half years in orbit, Tiangong-1 (meaning Heavenly Palace) is expected to plummet to Earth in late 2017.

    Speaking at a satellite launch for the space station’s successor in the Gobi Desert in northern China, officials from China’s manned space programme said the craft had ended its service in March this year having “comprehensively fulfilled its historical mission”.

    Wu Ping, deputy director of the manned space engineering office said: “Based on our calculation and analysis, most parts of the space lab will burn up during falling.”

    According to Space.com the less than precise landing time indicates the operators had lost control of the unit, as if they were still able to communicate with it, they could steer it to “a guided re-entry over an empty stretch of ocean at a specified time”.

    Like other lost satellites, it’s likely that the freefalling station will burn up on its way back into Earth and come back down in smaller chunks of molten metal rather than with a big crash.

    However, some denser engine parts are unlikely to burn up completely and could potentially cause problems on the ground.

    Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell told the Guardian the announcement suggested the doomed craft would now re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere naturally, making it near impossible to predict where any debris will fall.

    “You really can’t steer these things,” he said. “Even a couple of days before it re-enters we probably won’t know better than six or seven hours, plus or minus, when it’s going to come down. Not knowing when it’s going to come down translates as not knowing where it’s going to come down.”

    “There will be lumps of about 100kg or so, still enough to give you a nasty wallop if it hit you,” he added.

    He said that even small changes in atmospheric conditions would be enough to nudge the craft “from one continent to the next”.

    But according to Chinese news agency Xinhua, Ms Wu said the space station’s re-entry was “unlikely to affect aviation activities or cause damage to the ground”.

    “China has always highly valued the management of space debris, conducting research and tests on space debris mitigation and cleaning,” Wu said.

    Tiangong-2, China’s replacement for the space lab, was successfully launched aboard a Long March 2F rocket on 15 September from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in north west China.
    _____________________________________________

    All I can say is...

    Ground control to Major "Wong".

    (groan)
    "Life IS mystical! Its just that we're used to it." - Wolf, the movie
    "Dad, if God is everywhere then, when he's in a piece of paper, is he squished?" - My daughter, age 7

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    Re: China's space station 'out of control' and on crash course to Earth

    “You really can’t steer these things,” he said. “Even a couple of days before it re-enters we probably won’t know better than six or seven hours, plus or minus, when it’s going to come down. Not knowing when it’s going to come down translates as not knowing where it’s going to come down.”

    “There will be lumps of about 100kg or so, still enough to give you a nasty wallop if it hit you,” he added.

    He said that even small changes in atmospheric conditions would be enough to nudge the craft “from one continent to the next”.

    But according to Chinese news agency Xinhua, Ms Wu said the space station’s re-entry was “unlikely to affect aviation activities or cause damage to the ground”. China has always highly valued the management of space debris, conducting research and tests on space debris mitigation and cleaning,” Wu said.
    Re. that last bit. Nice to see that china's govt is becoming more "Westernized". Even with flaming metal falling from space, they'll go on TV and tell you, "Don't worry. Nothing's wrong"

    And, we got one thing cleared up: a 220 lb. chunk of spacecraft, hitting you at 17,000+ mph is officially a "wallop". And that's from Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell.

    "Life IS mystical! Its just that we're used to it." - Wolf, the movie
    "Dad, if God is everywhere then, when he's in a piece of paper, is he squished?" - My daughter, age 7

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    Re: China's space station 'out of control' and on crash course to Earth

    Ho lee fu k Fred...

    Yeah that's some kinda wallop, might need a sticky plaster, maybe a stitch or two...

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    Re: China's space station 'out of control' and on crash course to Earth

    that reminds me of the report on one of those asian airline crashes...Captain Wi Tu Low and his copilot. It shouldn't be funny but it is. yeah, you got it Ross...wow

    Captain Sum Ting Wong. I can't believe that professional journalists fell for that one...absolutely hilarious...

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    Re: China's space station 'out of control' and on crash course to Earth

    Now a-days a "Professional Journalist" translates to anyone who can read a Teleprompter.
    Harley

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    Re: China's space station 'out of control' and on crash course to Earth

    Quote Originally Posted by Ross View Post
    Yeah that's some kinda wallop, might need a sticky plaster, maybe a stitch or two...
    I was thinking more like... "Ok, someone get a sponge, and a bucket. The rest of you... start filling in this crater."
    "Life IS mystical! Its just that we're used to it." - Wolf, the movie
    "Dad, if God is everywhere then, when he's in a piece of paper, is he squished?" - My daughter, age 7

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    Ross (09-22-2016)

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