Chinese Space Lab Falls to Earth
Ground control to Major Tom. The Tiangong-1 was closely tracked as it entered Earth’s atmosphere last night and burned up, scattering debris toward the South Pacific. Launched in 2011, China’s first space lab — one-tenth the size of the International Space Station — was designed to perform docking and orbit experiments, and successfully hosted several missions. Its transmissions stopped in 2016, though, causing concerns that engineers had no control over the station’s reentry. Its successor, Tiangong-2, is already in orbit, and China is planning a permanent space station by 2022.