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China's out-of-control space station set to crash into Earth this year does NOT pose a safety threat, top Chinese scientist claims


原文时间:2018-01-08 22:52:30

China's space station, Tiangong-1, does not pose a safety threat, a top Chinese spaceflight engineer said on Monday, after reports that the station was falling towards earth.


The Tiangong-1, or 'Heavenly Palace 1', China's first space lab, was launched into orbit in 2011 to carry out docking and orbit experiments as part of China's ambitious space programme, which aims to place a permanent station in orbit by 2023.


Tiangong-1 was originally planned to be decommissioned in 2013 but China has repeatedly extended the length of its mission. 


The delay of re-entry into the earth's atmosphere, which China said would happen in late 2017, had led some experts to suggest the space laboratory may be out of control.


Recent speculation from industry experts has claimed that the space shuttle is out of control. 


It was originally expected to re-enter in late 2017.


Now, Chinese officials say it should break down in the atmosphere some time between January 2018 and March 2018.


Chinese officials have responded to previous claims that the space shuttle will embark on an uncontrolled re-entry and could land in highly populated areas. 


They say that the remaining wreckage will land in a 'satellite graveyard' - an area of the South Pacific ocean commonly used by Russian and US space agencies to dump debris.


Zhu Congpeng, a top engineer at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, told the state-backed Science and Technology Daily newspaper that the space station was not out of control and did not pose a safety or environmental threat.

中国航天科技集团(China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation)的高级工程师朱枞鹏在接受官媒《科技日报》(Science and Technology Daily)采访时表示,空间站并没有失控,也不会造成安全或环境威胁。

'We have been continuously monitoring Tiangong-1 and expect to allow it to fall within the first half of this year,' Zhu told the newspaper.


'It will burn up on entering the atmosphere and the remaining wreckage will fall into a designated area of the sea, without endangering the surface,' he said.


Re-entry was delayed in September 2017 in order to ensure that the wreckage would fall into an area of the South Pacific ocean where debris from Russian and US space stations had previously landed, the paper said.


The California-based Aerospace Corporation, a non-profit group that works with the US government, said the Tiangong-1's re-entry was unlikely to be controlled but was highly unlikely to hit people or damage property, according to a post on its website last updated on Jan 3.

It said: 'Although not declared officially, it is suspected that control of Tiangong-1 was lost and will not be regained before re-entry,


'There may be hazardous material on board that could survive re-entry.'


Advancing China's space programme is a priority for President Xi Jinping, who has called for China to become a global space power with both advanced civilian space flight and capabilities that strengthen national security.


Beijing insists that its space programme is for peaceful purposes, but the US Defense Department has said China's programme could be aimed at blocking adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.


Tiangong-1 is China's first Space Station Module.


The vehicle was the nation's first step towards its ultimate goal of developing, building, and operating a large Space Station as a permanent human presence in Low Earth Orbit.


The module was launched on September 29, 2012.


Tiangong-1 features flight-proven components of Chinese Shenzhou Spacecraft as well as new technology.


The module consists of three sections: the aft service module, a transition section and the habitable orbital module.


The vehicle is 10.4 metres long and has a main diameter of 3.35 metres.


It has a liftoff mass of 8,506 kilograms and provides 15 cubic metres of pressurized volume.