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

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After the Chinese space agency lost control of Tiangong-1, it was just a matter of time before it crashed back into Earth. While most parts of the defunct station are believed to have burned up in the Earth's atmosphere, some pieces may have survived and plummeted into the water.

The out of control Chinese space station Tiangong 1 mostly burned up on re-entering the Earth's atmosphere above the South Pacific on April 2, according to Chinese space authorities.

U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Force Space Component Command confirmed the crash, using Space Surveillance Network sensors and their orbital analysis system.

"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.

Launched in 2011, Tiangong-1 was China's first space station, serving as an experimental platform for bigger projects, such as the Tiangong-2 launched in September 2016 and a future permanent Chinese space station.

"The location of the reentry was, by chance, not too far from the so-called South Pacific Ocean Unpopulated Area".

However, the ESA had predicted that Tiangong-1 would probably break up over water.

Tiangong-1 is a prototype space station, the first such initiative, launched by the Chinese Government.

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Two crews of Chinese astronauts lived on the station while testing docking procedures and other operations.

In June 2012, Shenzhou-9 spacecraft was thrust into space to dock with the orbiting Tiangong-1.

The images considered the last of Tiangong 1 show it still intact. Its objective was to test docking technologies and other skills China needed to fine-tune before establishing a permanent space station, planned for the early 2020s.

"It's normal for spacecraft to re-enter the atmosphere, yet Tiangong-1 received so much attention partly because some Western countries are trying to hype and sling mud at China's fast-growing aerospace industry", it said.

Most of the craft should burn up on re-entry, so scientists said falling debris poses only a slight risk to people on the ground.

Tiangong-1 had been slated for a controlled re-entry but ceased functioning in March 2016. "Although it's only aimed to test the technologies for space station, it has many far-reaching effects", Mao Xinyuan, a columnist, was quoted as saying.

Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet.