back to article Doomed Chinese space lab Tiangong-1 crashes into watery Pacific grave

China's first space station flamed out in the atmosphere and any remaining fragments have now been consigned to a watery grave in the South Pacific. The Tiangong-1, which translates to Heavenly Palace, has been tumbling out of control in low-Earth orbit for over a year after an unspecified fault crippled it in 2016. US …

  1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    not bad, all things considered

    If it came down anywhere near Point Nemo, that's probably about as good an outcome as one could hope for, is it not?

  2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Re: not bad, all things considered

    'about as good an outcome as one could hope for, is it not?"

    Depends on your point of view I suppose.

  3. fajensen Silver badge

    Re: not bad, all things considered

    Nope, I think it is generally a waste that nobody saw the pretty fireworks.

  4. Keef
    Trollface

    Okay, I'll bite...

    As it came down near Point Nemo I say they still had some control...

  5. EveryTime Silver badge

    Re: Okay, I'll bite...

    They had zero control. To target requires a re-entry burn, or at least attitude control combined with accurate drag models.

    It does make statistical sense that it landed near there. There is a lot of water on the planet, and the most water is where there is the least land.

  6. Haefen

    Re: Control? No Control?

    That people believe it randomly fell in the exact spot it would if they had control, or that it was just luck they had it on the right path for it to fall in the exact spot shows how susceptible we are to propaganda.

    My first reaction was wow the Chinese were really lucky that it was on the exact path needed to land safely when they lost control of it so many years ago. Then I thought of some of the adjustments other space craft needed to hit that spot and realize that it is far more likely that the Chinese never lost total control or did so much later than reported.

    Which brings into question all the sources of "news" I believed, and because those were the first stories I read about it still do tend to believe.

    Note: Always remember that these posts are moderated, this is not an open discussion of the issue.

    .

  7. JimC Silver badge

    Re: Okay, I'll bite...

    It depends on your definition of near. From what I can make out it came down some thousands of miles away from point Nemo.

  8. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

    Re: Control? No Control?

    How 'spot on' was this anyway? All I could find was that the station crashed "a few thousand miles" north of Point Nemo. Back-of-the-envelope calculation tells me that it had a probability of about 10% hitting a 2000-mile wide zone in the Earth strip from 43 North to 43 South that was already established as the crash zone. 10% is hardly a miracle. This goes to 60% if you consider a 5000-mile wide area.

    And what kind of double game would the Chinese be playing? We still have control but we won't admit it, and we'll crash the station almost, but not quite entirely, in the area where one would expect a controlled re-entry?

  9. cray74 Silver badge

    Re: Control? No Control?

    Note: Always remember that these posts are moderated, this is not an open discussion of the issue.

    If the moderators' IP address isn't behind the Great Firewall of China, then you don't have to worry about moderation hindering presentation of the pertinent points about this discussion. Such as:

    1) Tiangong 1 came down significantly closer to American Samoa than Point Nemo. This is not consistent with the behavior of a controlled disposal at Point Nemo.

    2) The CNSA and China in general would be crowing about the safe disposal of Tiangong 1, which would grant them some technical and diplomatic brownie points.

    3) Amateur satellite watchers would have noted the controlled attitude and radio transmissions from Tiangong 1, instead of its silence and drifting attitude. The loss of control of the station was first confirmed by amateur astronomers in 2016, not China, who was only muttering about loss of telemetry.

    As far as conspiracy theories go, "China had secret control over Tiangong 1 and used it to do nothing, not even transmit basic telemetry, for 2 years until guiding the station into missing a satellite graveyard by 2000 miles," needs a little polish.

  10. Fungus Bob Silver badge
    Boffin

    Re: @JimC

    >From what I can make out it came down some thousands of miles away from point Nemo.

    FTA: "Point Nemo is used for dumping because it's the furthest point on the planet from land, with the nearest shoreline 2,415km (1,501 miles) away. "

    "Some thousands of miles" away would mean it landed on... land.

  11. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

    Re: @FungusBob

    No, it can still arrive 5000 km away from PN and fall into the water. The nearest coastline being 2400 km away doesn't mean that every point at that distance is a landmass.

  12. Fungus Bob Silver badge

    Re: @FungusBob

    Well, you're no fun!

  13. harmjschoonhoven
    Happy

    So glad to see

    the Tiangong-1 is not littering Point Nemo near the Knappschaftkrankenhaus in Dortmund, Germany.

    Those still interested in rocket science might read ESA's FAQ on Tiangong-1 reentry.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: So glad to see

    I'm a heart surgeon. As for visiting rocket science websites, I very much think not.

  15. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Re: So glad to see

    @AC

    I'm a heart surgeon. As for visiting rocket science websites, I very much think not.

    "Okay, so you're a rocket scientist heart surgeon

    That don't impress me much".

    With thanks to Shania Twain

  16. Alister Silver badge

    Re: So glad to see

    I'm a rocket surgeon, and I do brain science in my spare time...

  17. Claptrap314 Bronze badge

    Re: So glad to see

    I like bright, shiny objects.

  18. frank ly Silver badge

    re. The radar picture

    Does that picture represent the best capabilities of the JFSCC radar system or have they degraded it for security reasons? (I'm not expecting a reply from any JFSCC staff.)

  19. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: re. The radar picture

    The picture is from the German Fraunhofer institute.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My early condolences to the Pacific Ocean

    "A new, much larger space station in planned to begin construction by 2022..."

  21. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Fraunhofer Institute's picture

    Based on comments I've seen on various forums, there's a fraction of the population* that believe that the image is orange and red because they captured this image when the station was glowing red hit as it entered the atmosphere.

    I'll assume that the Fraunhofer Institute didn't select this colour pallet as a cynical ploy.

    * They walk amongst us, on their hind legs.

  22. phuzz Silver badge

    Re: Fraunhofer Institute's picture

    At least they believe that it was actually in space in the first place, there seems to be increasing numbers of people who don't believe in spaceflight, or even a round* Earth.

    ('round' being a conversational approximation of 'oblate spheroid')

  23. Winkypop Silver badge
    Facepalm

    More trash for the ocean

    At least we have Planet B......

  24. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Re: More trash for the ocean

    An insignificant amount compared with the average westener's plastic deposits in the same pond.

  25. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Re: More trash for the ocean

    Which itself is insignificant by any sensible measure....

  26. Winkypop Silver badge
    Trollface

    Re: More trash for the ocean

    True enough.

    However I try and limit my disposal of hydrazine and radioactive isotopes in the council waste.

  27. Alister Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Re: More trash for the ocean

    I know, I took a spent uranium fuel rod to the local tip, but they said they don't handle that sort of thing. It's ridiculous, I wrote to my local MP about it.

  28. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Re: More trash for the ocean

    Tom 7 combines a deep concern with his failing to keep up with the news on the same topic, "...the average westener's plastic deposits in [the Pacific]..."

    It was all over the news a few months ago.

    90% (or 95%) of waste plastic getting into the ocean is from just TEN RIVERS. The Thames and the St Lawrence failed to make the list. "Western" rivers in general didn't make the list. It's from areas of huge populations that massively litter.

    Campaigning EcoMentals that fail to be aware of the basic facts, and then implying a need for misdirected and ineffective corrective action, are now a serious menace to the planet.

    Addressing the larger "80%" (80/20 Rule) of the issue would be simple and cheap. But only if the rampaging Enviromentals learn the facts and focus on effective solutions.

    Geezuz H. They (the empty-headed Eco Warriers) need to hire a manager!!

  29. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Re: More trash for the ocean

    You've got to arrange a collection pick up for it round here.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: More trash for the ocean

    "spent uranium fuel rods"

    Yeah that plus old paint tins and mattresses!

  31. cray74 Silver badge

    Re: More trash for the ocean

    I know, I took a spent uranium fuel rod to the local tip, but they said they don't handle that sort of thing. It's ridiculous, I wrote to my local MP about it.

    Ridiculous is the look on management's faces when you tell them that FedEx lost your radioactive waste shipment on the way to the disposal site. But that's getting a bit off topic from Tiangong 1's final disposal.

  32. Expat-Cat

    Unsuitable Reg section

    I note this is in "Emergent Technology". Seems wrong on so many levels...

    Submergent Technology?

  33. Symon Silver badge
    Coat

    "confirmed reentry on April 1"

    http://earthsky.org/space/china-tiangong-1-uncontrolled-re-entry-mar-apr-2018

    Only for folks west of Greenwich. For the rest of us, and the Chinese owners, it was April 2nd.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "confirmed reentry on April 1"

    So it was 1st April in Richmond while 2nd April in Dartford ?

  35. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Re: "confirmed reentry on April 1"

    I believe it's still 1955 in Dartford...

  36. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

    the missed opportunity!

    time for an Asylum Pictures "homage" to The Andromeda Strain!

    some "found footage" washes up on shore, shows "what really happened" and why the Chinese deliberately brought the station down...

    ..and what survived the crash!

    Feel free to donate any royalty checks in my name to any future LOHAN project reboot :)

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