With great anticipation and excitement, Tiangong-1 has made it back to Earth over the weekend. The Chinese space station, which the country lost control of in 2016, was the subject of plenty of speculation as we all knew it would happen at some point, just no one knew for sure when.
The best experts could do was provide educated guesses as to when it would happen, and they had even less of an idea of where it would land. With so many factors coming into play, like its descent speed, atmospheric resistance and how much of it would survive re-entry, it was understandable.
But now the time for predictions and guesses has ended, as Tiangong-1 — or, at least, some of it anyway — has returned. As it turns out, any fears of what it could do upon landing were either unfounded or not necessary.
It came kind of close
It’s important to remember China lost control of the space station, which meant the country could do nothing to guide it as it fell through the sky. Fortunately, most of it burned up in the atmosphere, and what survived landed in the South Pacific off the coast of Tahiti.
Crashing down at a speed of nearly 17,000 mph, there was speculation that its re-entry could create a bit of a fireball show in the sky. It came back at 8:15 p.m. ET Sunday, but it was daylight locally so that, along with its location, likely meaning no one saw much of anything.
Odds were it wouldn’t harm anyone
The idea of a space station hurtling through the air back to Earth probably frightened some people. After all, being hit with falling space debris would probably hurt a bit.
However, the odds of anyone actually coming into contact with pieces of the space station were very, very small, as they are about 1 million times worse than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot. How low? About one in a trillion.
One last time, what was Tiangong-1?
Launched in 2011, Tiangong-1 was 34-feet long, 11-feet wide and nearly 19,000 pounds. It was made up of two modules, with one being habitable and the other meant for resources.
There was room for two sleep stations, and its purpose was to be a manned lab and experiment/demonstration area for a larger Tiangong space station. It was last used by an astronaut in 2013 when a three-person team spent 12 days on it.
If you did happen to snap a photo of the space station, you could make some money off it
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