(CHINA, LANKAPUVATH) – It was a fiery end to what was once one of China’s highest profile space projects.
The Tiangong-1 space lab re-entered Earth’s atmosphere Monday morning, landing in the middle of the South Pacific, China Manned Space Agency said.
“Most parts were burned up in the re-entry process,” it added.
The space lab, whose name translates to “Heavenly Palace”, was launched in September 2011 as a prototype for China’s ultimate space goal: a permanent space station is expected to launch around 2022.
Its demise, though ultimately uneventful, captured public attention in recent weeks, as scientists around the world tracked its uncontrolled descent.
“It did exactly what it was expected to do; the predictions, at least the past 24 hours’ ones, were spot on; and as expected it fell somewhere empty and did no damage,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
McDowell said there was unlikely to be any amateur images of the vessel’s re-entry given it was daytime in the Pacific when it crashed to Earth. Scientists had earlier said it might be possible to see the spacecraft burn up in a “series of fireballs streaking across the sky.”
It landed around 8.15 a.m. Monday Beijing time (8:15 p.m. ET Sunday), China’s Manned Space Agency said.