Foreign media envy China’s fast-growing space program: Chinese analysts

By Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/1 21:03:39

Foreign media's hype of the re-entry of Tiangong-1, China's first space lab, displays their envy of China's fast growing aerospace industry, Chinese analysts said.

The China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) updated the information on Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace 1 on Sunday, saying that it will reenter the Earth's atmosphere on April 2, and that the space lab is orbiting at an average height of about 167.6 kilometers.

The agency has been updating information on Tiangong-1 since March 14, after foreign media suspected the space lab was "out of control" and would crash to Earth and release "toxic hydrazine propellant," according to a report from the Guardian.

The space lad reentered the atmosphere because it ran out of fuel, not because it's out of control, Zhang Baoxin, an expert at China Aviation News, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Very few parts of the space lab will be left as most of it will burn up in the atmosphere as aerodynamic friction turns the fast speed into heat. It won't cause damage on Earth, he added.

The remaining fragments will most likely fall into the ocean, which covers more than 70 percent of the Earth's surface, instead of hitting densely-populated grounds, Wang Yanan, deputy editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times.

During a meteor shower, about 1,000 to 20,000 meteorites fall to Earth per hour, and the probability of a person being hit by a meteorite of more than 200 grams is one-700 millionth, the Xinhua News Agency quoted an article published by CMSEO as saying.

However, the article could not be found on its website as of press time.

It's normal for spacecraft to re-enter the atmosphere, yet Tiangong-1 received so much attention partly because some Western countries are trying to hype and sling mud at China's fast-growing aerospace industry, the two observers said.

China attaches great importance to the reentry of Tiangong-1 into the atmosphere and has been keeping the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs up to date, and has been providing transparent and open information, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said on a press conference on Friday.

There will be a little deviation from the estimated time of the reentry because Tiangong-1 is large and has to keep clear of other spacecraft, Zhang said, noting that despite these factors, scientists will still get hold of the space lab and will make it land somewhere safe.

Launched in September 2011, Tiangong-1 had a design life of two years.

The vehicle successfully docked with the Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft and conducted a series of experiments.

The lab completed its main missions following Shenzhou-10's return in June 2013.

During its extended flight, Tiangong-1 conducted experiments in space technology, space-earth remote sensing and space environment exploration, CMSEO said.
Newspaper headline: Tiangong-1 returns on April 2


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