China's first station Tiangong-1 or "Heavenly Place" is expected to crash to the Earth in 2017. This is expected to happen as Chinese spacemen and authorities have permanently lost control of the 8.5 ton (18,739 pounds) module. The announcement was made to confirm that China has totally lost its control of the 10.4m-long module after suffering from technical and mechanical failure.
Tiangong-1, when it launched in 2011, was known to be China's "potent political symbol" when it comes to the Sleeping Giant's growing power amid its ambition to scientifically push the country at the forefront of technological advancement in space, according to a report from The Guardian.
The said space lab was supposed to comprehensively fulfill its historical mission. Now that it is unmanned, it is ready to enter the Earth's atmosphere in the second half of 2017.
"Based on our calculation and analysis, most parts of the space lab will burn up during falling," said the Deputy Director Wu Ping of China's manned space engineering office. She claimed Tiangong-1's return to Earth would "unlikely to affect aviation affection activities or cause intensive damage to the ground."
"If necessary, China will release a forecast of its falling and report it internationally," she added.
According to Spaceflightnow, as Tiangong-1 loses its altitude, it is expected to encounter thicker parts of the upper atmosphere, and its descent rate will increase. Furthermore, its orbit takes it around the Earth every half and a half between 43 degrees north and south latitude. Still, it is impossible to predict its entry point ahead of time.
Just recently, China launched its new and upgraded Tiangong-2 research module to replace the Tiangong-1 space lab. It is reported that this new spacecraft carries many updates including a robotic arm and refueling equipment that are necessary to refine technologies for China's planned multi-module space station due for completion by 2022.
The big question now is: What is China's hidden goal behind the launch of this spacecraft?