China’s Tiangong-2 space station will fall out of the sky soon. It will drop out from its Earth orbit on July 19, falling into Pacific Ocean region located between Chile and New Zealand. Tiangong-2, whose translation means ‘heavenly palace’ had been launched into orbit during Sept. 2016 and was never meant to remain as a permanent structure orbiting the Earth.
Its actual mission was to pave the way and test out tech modules for the next bigger space station from China, which is meant to launch out in 2020. This enhanced space station will still only have around 20% of the ISS. Compared to this, Tiangong-2 happens to be quite small.
Traveling on the Shenzhou spacecraft during Oct 2016, two astronauts had traveled all the way to this space station Tiangong-2. They performed various experiments related to human physiology condition while in space and also performed other scientific experiments relating to other branches of science. They returned back home after a month.
During 2017, a spacecraft performed docking procedures with the space station 3 times in order for testing its refueling and docking capabilities. During 2018, the space station started lowering its orbit, preparing for its mission’s termination. On July 19, its thrusters will be fired up again, aiming its fall towards the vast Pacific Ocean. While most of it will burn up due to the atmosphere, any surviving parts will land on the water without a problem.
This space station still is fully functional. Its termination is only because all planned experiments that it was meant to perform have now been completed. This can enable it to avoid its predecessor’s fate. The previous iteration, Tiangong-1 had lost power way back during April 2018, crashing down without any control to it. Luckily, all its remnants crashed into the vast ocean. However, this may not always be the case, which is why Chinese scientists are making sure that this space station is able to hit water definitively.