from the duck! dept.
Space.com reports (Tor-friendly link) that amateur satellite tracker Thomas Dorman has created imagery that suggests China's Tiangong-1 space station "is in a slow roll." If that is the situation, its motion is not under control and its solar panels are not aimed at the Sun.
In March, official news agency Xinhua reported that "Tiangong-1 terminated its data service" and that
The flight orbit of the space lab, which will descend gradually in the coming months, is under continued and close monitoring, according to the [manned space engineering] office, which said the orbiter will burn up in the atmosphere eventually.
The official statement and Dorman's observations have led to speculation that the craft's descent may take place in an uncontrolled manner, increasing the possibility that debris will fall in populated areas.
(Score: 4, Interesting) by frojack on Thursday July 14 2016, @07:23AM
descent may take place in an uncontrolled manner, increasing the possibility that debris will fall in populated areas.
Unless you have enough fuel on board for a precise and sustained burn, the precision with which you can dump a satellite with deployed soar panels is suspect at best.
Depending on the orbital track the expectation of hitting land is roughly about 25% and the chances of hitting a populated area is much much smaller than that.
Still its unfortunate the Chinese waited so long to deorbit this thing. When they blew up one of their own satellites with another satellite it was clear they don't care too much about the space junk they leave flying around a up there.
Unfortunately, they seem to be following American and Russian examples.
No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
(Score: 2, Insightful) by anubi on Thursday July 14 2016, @09:26AM
Here's hoping either the Chinese or another space agency can assist in getting it back in place.
It cost a lot to get that thing up there... shame to let it all come back apart.
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 14 2016, @01:01PM
Anyone know the orbital track of this thing? If launched from mainland China it probably covers most of the temperate zones??
(Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Thursday July 14 2016, @02:04PM
What goes up, must come down.
At least for all the space stations they've launched so far and put in relatively low orbit (all of them).
"Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
(Score: 3, Insightful) by tibman on Thursday July 14 2016, @01:10PM
Judging the abuse of their local environment i doubt space is any concern at all.
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(Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday July 14 2016, @05:02PM
Every debris associated with that Chinese station is headed down pretty soon. We can't complain that they won't leave that orbit as clean as they had found it.
(Score: 3, Interesting) by butthurt on Thursday July 14 2016, @07:51PM
It's customary to carry enough fuel for a de-orbit manoeuvre: it was done with the Salyut stations, with Skylab, and with Mir.
I'm not sure how much the solar panels affect the descent. At a guess, they might break off when, or before, the forces on them became enough to drastically change the motion of the main body of the craft. Certainly the panels don't make a craft's descent more predictable. Controllers wanted Skylab to come down in the ocean south of South Africa, but it actually came down on Western Australia.
(Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Thursday July 14 2016, @08:29PM
The very same Wiki link you posted says this about skylab:
NASA first considered as early as 1962 the potential risks of a space station reentry, but decided not to incorporate a retrorocket system in Skylab due to cost and acceptable risk.
So it seems unlikely that skylab carried enough fuel for a de-orbit burn, since it didn't have any engines, and required occasional orbital boosts by Apollo visits.
No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
(Score: 2) by butthurt on Thursday July 14 2016, @09:53PM
Ah, I was looking at the bit that says "ground controllers adjusted Skylab's orientation to try to minimize the risk of re-entry on a populated area." Bit of a difference there. Thanks.
(Score: 1, Flamebait) by Bot on Thursday July 14 2016, @07:28AM
Shut it down, the round eyes know.
(Score: 4, Funny) by Bot on Thursday July 14 2016, @07:33AM
To which, the Chinese angrily responded: "Wait, you white guys waged the opium war on us, and now we can't even roll one?"
(Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday July 14 2016, @11:14AM
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 14 2016, @09:38AM
"China successfully tests artificial gravity in Earth orbit"
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 14 2016, @09:46AM
If it was Hacked and the station "bricked" China would never admit to it.
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 14 2016, @12:32PM
And it emits an unusually harsh ringtone, cover your head with an arm and proceed to the nearest shelter promptly.
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 14 2016, @03:02PM
Is this a Kingsman reference?
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 15 2016, @12:43AM
i feel much better now