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Out-of-control Chinese space lab expected to fall to Earth next year

23 September 2016

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China's Tiangong 1 space lab, replaced by an upgraded human-rated research station launched last week, is heading for an uncontrolled re-entry back into Earth's atmosphere in late 2017.

The crash is not expected to cause any damage — only a small fraction of Tiangong 1 will survive the destructive heat of re-entry — but the Chinese mini-space station will be one of the largest objects to make an unguided descent from orbit in recent years.

The Tiangong 1 spacecraft stopped functioning in March, four-and-a-half years after it launched 29 September 2011. Wu said the mission was originally designed to last two years.

Tiangong means "heavenly palace" in Chinese, while Shenzhou roughly translates as "divine vessel."

Source: Spaceflight Now

Image credit: CCTV