China's Tiangong-2 Space Lab Falls to Earth Over South Pacific

Katie Ramirez
July 20, 2019

Tiangong-2 has been in orbit for almost three years, surpassing its expected 2-year life span and completing a number of experiments for the Chinese space agency along the way. Operators had lost contact with Tiangong-1 (an artist's impression of the reentry is shown above) long before it reentered the atmosphere unguided on April 2, 2018, landing in the Pacific Ocean. However, they live longer in space than on Earth ...

It has been orbiting the earth since September 2016. However, Tiangong-2's decent was a little more dignified, being slowly lowered into a disintegrating orbit in steps, whereas Tianzhou-1 was simply set on a crash course for the planet, Xinhua noted.

Its name Tiangong-2, or "Heavenly Palace-2", symbolizes the long-held Chinese dream to reach the heavens.

China's Tiangong-2 spacecraft is plummeting back to Earth after purposely falling out of the planet's orbit. The station is 10.4 meters long, the largest diameter is 3.35 meters.

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Following this, in 2017 the docking and refueling capabilities of the Tiangong-2 were tested and measured by having a cargo spacecraft dock on the space station three times. The development of the clock would have a far-reaching impact on the deep space exploration, basic physical research and precision measurement, according to its developers from the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics of CAS. A test version of the core module has been completed, and the test version of the two experiment capsules is under development, Zhou said.

The in-depth cooperation between Chinese and European scientists in the experiment is an important breakthrough, laying a solid foundation for more and deeper cooperation between the two sides in the future, said Sun Jianchao, a member of the team from the High Energy Physics Institute of CAS.

Its real objective was to test out some of the technologies that are going to be used on China's much larger space station - still a fifth of the size of the International Space Station - set to be launched next year.

With the end of the Tiangong-2 China enters a period without a spacecraft capable of hosting human spaceflight missions for the first time since 2011. No, the country isn't launching anything new into space, and in fact, it's sort of the opposite.

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