Artist’s illustration of China’s Tiangong-1 space station

Artist's illustration of China's Tiangong-1 space station

Artist’s illustration of China’s Tiangong-1 space station. Means literally “Heavenly Palace 1” in English, the 8.5-tonne spacecraft was China’s first prototype space station. It launched on 29 September 2011, and its operational life cycle was predicted at two years. On 21 March 2016, after a lifespan extended by two years, the Space Engineering Office of China announced that Tiangong-1 had officially ended its service. The officials went on to state that the telemetry link with Tiangong-1 had been lost. But, a couple of months later, amateur satellite trackers watching Tiangong-1 found that China’s space agency had lost control of the station. In September, after conceding they had lost control over the station, officials announced that the station would re-enter and burn up in the atmosphere late in 2017.

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