The second space lab that China launched will make a return to earth in July of next year. The country’s space agency made the announcement barely six months after the first space lab – Tiangong-1 famously crashed out of it’s orbit and went into an uncontrolled descent. Fortunately the first station landed in the South Pacific and there was no damage, indeed the vast majority burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere before crashing.
Tiangong-2 has been in orbit for about two years now after being launched in 2016.
The first satellite crashed and returned to earth in an uncontrolled manner, it was very fortunate that no damage was caused – this was purely down to luck. Although the Tiangong-2 space station was only launched in 2016, the Chinese say that it has exhausted it’s usefulness and so it will be scuttled deliberately. The engineers will plan and schedule it’s de-orbit for early next year.
It’s not yet decided on the location for bringing the lab down, but most experts assume it would be somewhere remote in the Pacific Ocean.
Probably one the primary reasons that the Chinese have decided to scuttle their 2nd space lab so quickly is that it has ambitious plans to launch a fully fledged space station fairly soon. There have been lots of reports in the media and even some on the UK TV channels including the BBC, you can access the archive from abroad here.
The aim is to launch the space station by 2022 and the country has invited countries to come and carry out research on their facilities. Many have welcomed this as an act of international co-operation, particularly as the International Space station is beginning it’s wind down. Others have suggested that it’s also making something of a political point after they were barred from being able to use the ISS for their own research. It’s this lockout that gave the Chinese the impetus to achieve it’s own Space station so quickly.
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