FRENCH POLYNESIA (CBSNEWS.COM/AP) – Chinese space authorities say , the country’s defunct and reportedly , re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere Sunday night, mostly burning up over the central South Pacific. The China Manned Space Engineering Office says online that the experimental space lab re-entered around 8:15 a.m. local time Monday.
The tumbling spacecraft posed only a slight risk to people and property on the ground, since most of the 8.5-ton vehicle was expected to burn up on re-entry.
Officials at the Joint Force Space Component Command said the satellite re-entered after 7 p.m. CT. Their statement mentioned that the reentry was confirmed “through coordination with counterparts in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom”:
Tiangong-1 was launched in 2011 to carry out docking and orbit experiments.
It was part of China’s efforts to build a manned space station by 2022, but stopped working in March 2016.
What do we know about where it came down?
The rather vague “above the South Pacific” is the line from space officials.
US specialists at the Joint Force Space Component Command said they had used orbit analysis technology to confirm Tiangong-1’s re-entry.
Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted that it appeared to have come down north-west of Tahiti.
Experts had struggled to predict exactly where the lab would make its re-entry – and China’s space agency wrongly suggested it would be off Sao Paulo, Brazil, shortly before the moment came.
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