By Ahlam Ben Saga
By Ahlam Ben Saga
Rabat- Malfunctioning Chinese spacecraft, Tiangong-1 fell into the southern Pacific Ocean on Monday, April 2, after orbiting the earth for six years, according to China’s Manned Space Engineering Office and the European Space Agency.
The Chinese government launched Tiangong-1 on September 29, 2011, as its first prototype space station, with the aim of demonstrating docking capabilities and carrying out orbit experiments in line with China’s space programme aiming to launch a permanent Chinese space station by 2020.
In March 2016, the spacecraft ceased to respond to ground orders and began its journey towards decay, as it tumbled astray around space, until its fiery reentry to Earth’s atmosphere on Monday at 00:15 UTC (00H42 GMT).
Tiangong-1 which translates into “Heavenly Palace” or “Celestial Palace-1” weighed 8.506 kilograms and was 10.4 meters long.
Its interior facilities constituted of high-resolution cameras for manned missions, two sleep stations with individual lighting control and exercise gear.
In 2017, China forecasted that the Tiangong-1 would meet its end by late March 2018, reported the Guardian.
One year after Tiangong-1 broke down, China launched Tiangong-2 to test capabilities for long-term human presence in space, said the same source.
In a previous statement, the European Space Agency predicted that the spacecraft might land over water and said that the chances of being hit by a piece of wrecked Tiangong-1 are “10 million times smaller than the yearly chance of being hit by lightning.”
The Chinese tabloid Global Times newspaper commented on the media buzz surrounding the spacecraft’s fall, stating that the incident should not have been subjected to so much attention:
“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,” relayed the same source, noting China’s expanding space experiments.