China’s Tiangong-1 space lab is expected to fall out of the sky during the first quarter of 2018. Aerospace Corp. has taken the opportunity to create a “death pool” for the stricken habitat. Simply guess when exactly the Chinese space lab will fall from the sky and you could win Aerospace Corp. merchandise.
Entries are being accepted here.
A Brief History of Tiangong-1
Launched in 2011, Tiangong-1 is a 9-ton habitat that hosted three missions, two crewed and one uncrewed. The space lab also holds the honour of hosting the first Chinese female astronauts, Liu Yang and Wang Yaping.
Although only initially meant to remain operational for two years, the station remained functional through much of 2015. In December 2015, the U.S. military’s Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) recorded what would be Tiangong-1’s last orbital adjustment.
The Demise of Tiangong-1
Current forecasts predict that the station will plunge uncontrolled into Earth’s atmosphere around mid-March. Although the station could really reenter anywhere on Earth, given its past inclinations, it is likely that it will re-enter between 43 degrees north latitude and 43 degrees south latitude.
The Chinese Manned Space Engineering Office (CMS) posts weekly updates on the orbital status of Tiangong-1. The last update published on December 26 for December 17 to 24 stated that, “Tiangong-1 orbited at an average altitude of 286.5km(perigee: 272.6km; apogee: 300.4km; inclination: 42.85°), with stabilized attitude control and well-functioned performance.”
Image Credit: CMS