Six years after it launched, a truck-sized space station is flying out of control on a collision course with Earth--and it could come crashing down almost anytime between now and next April. The 8.5-ton spacecraft is China's first space station, named Tiangong-1, which translates to "Heavenly Palace." Placed in orbit in September 2011, the station was designed to be a test-bed for robotic technologies, and it has seen multiple vehicle rendezvous, dockings, and taikonaut visits during its operational lifetime. The activity lays the groundwork for a more permanent space station the Chinese plan to launch in the near future. On May 4, 2017, Chinese officials released a report to the United Nations that Tiangong-1 had ceased operating back on March 16, 2016.
But where, exactly, the space station would disintegrate was a mystery – Tiangong-1 was hurtling around Earth 16 times each day, meaning that even a half-hour error in prediction would put the space station on the opposite side of the planet. Yet given its orbital pathway, experts knew that it would break up somewhere in the skies between 43 degrees north and south latitude, which includes most of the densely populated regions on Earth; by mid-afternoon Sunday, the space station's remaining orbits ruled out a breakup over the United States, although portions of South America, Southeast Asia and Africa were still under its path.
When SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Tuesday unveiled his grand plans to send people to colonize Mars by 2024, one member of the audience asked him: "Can normal people go?" "We're trying to make it such that anyone can go … maybe a few days of training," Mr. Musk answered. When another attendee asked about safety, he made no attempt to minimize the risks associated with such a journey. "The risk of fatality will be high; there is just no way around it," he said. "Are you prepared to die? While willingness to die may seem like daunting criteria for Musk's Mars crew, the process outlined so far is much simpler than the one NASA puts its astronauts through.
Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. China's Tiangong-1 space station, once the size of a school bus, burned up and broke apart as it entered Earth's atmosphere on Sunday night, Chinese and U.S. aerospace agencies confirmed. Residual pieces of the station landed northwest of Tahiti in the South Pacific and are now likely at the bottom of the ocean. China launched the Tiangong-1, its first space lab, in 2011 as part of an effort to eventually establish a permanent space station sometime after 2020. Because of a U.S. law barring NASA from communicating with China's space agency, China was not able to join the International Space Station.
The International Space Station hit a fun milestone on Monday. The station just surpassed its 100,000th orbit since the first component of the outpost launched to space in 1998. In total, this means the space laboratory has traveled about 2.6 billion miles, "or roughly the distance between Earth and Neptune," NASA said in a video description. It takes about 90 minutes for the station to make a complete orbit of Earth, and crewmembers on the station experience about 16 sunrises and sunsets per day. 'Game of Thrones' episode 5 will feature another intense flashback Emilia Clarke fans the flames for Daenerys' ascension to the Iron Throne