This Chinese Space Station Is Crashing To Earth! | Summary and Q&A

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March 31, 2018
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This Chinese Space Station Is Crashing To Earth!

TL;DR

China's first space station, Tiangong One, is expected to make an unpredictable and fiery descent back to Earth.

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Key Insights

  • 👨‍🚀 Tiangong One is China's first space station, launched in 2011, and has hosted two astronaut missions.
  • 😚 China lost control of the station in 2016 due to solar activity affecting Earth's gases, causing it to slowly descend towards Earth.
  • 🚉 The station is expected to make an unpredictable reentry on April 1st, with an uncertain window, and is likely to burn up upon reentry.
  • 💨 Point Nemo, the spot farthest away from any land, is considered a "Space graveyard" where many spacecraft have made their final descent.
  • 😘 Concerns about Tiangong One's reentry colliding with buildings or people are very low, with chances estimated to be less than 1 in 12 trillion.
  • 🚉 The station's design will result in most of it burning up upon reentry, with only a small amount, around 100-200 kilograms, potentially surviving.
  • ◽ The descent of Tiangong One has gained global attention, but the chances of being hit by debris are extremely small.

Transcript

space stations are meant to stay safely in the bounds of space I mean they're called space stations for a reason right well every now and then one of humanity's space bound projects decides it doesn't really like the idea of staying up in space anymore and then we'll begin a very final plummet back toward the planet surface tiangong one is a single... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did China lose control of Tiangong One?

Fluctuations from solar activity affected Earth's gases, resulting in increased drag on the station and a slowed orbit, eventually leading to loss of control.

Q: Is the reentry of Tiangong One dangerous?

While an 8.5-ton space station descending unpredictably may sound dangerous, the chances of it colliding with buildings or people are less than 1 in 12 trillion. It is expected to burn up upon reentry.

Q: Where is the designated "Space graveyard" on Earth?

The spot farthest away from any land, known as point Nemo, is considered the unofficial Space graveyard and has seen the final descent of around 250-300 spacecraft, with the ISS expected to join in 2024.

Q: How much of Tiangong One is expected to survive the reentry?

Due to the station's design, which consists of denser areas connected by thinner structures, most of it is predicted to burn up. Only a small amount, around 100-200 kilograms, may survive.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Tiangong One is a single module space station launched in 2011 that hosted two Chinese astronaut missions.

  • In 2016, control was lost due to solar activity affecting Earth's gases, causing the orbit to slow and the station to descend towards Earth.

  • The station is expected to reenter Earth's atmosphere on April 1st, with an uncertain window, and is likely to burn up in the process.

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