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Tiangong-1 space lab crash theory has collapsed

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    15:24, April 02, 2018

While many people are proud of China’s rise, the rapid development of China’s aerospace industry is the envy of some Western countries. China’s development has always been accompanied by envy and vilification.

Launched in September 2011, Tiangong-1 had a design life of two years. The lab successfully docked with the Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9, and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft, and conducted a series of experiments over the years. The lab had completed its main missions following Shenzhou-10’s return to Earth in June 2013.

China Manned Space Agency announced that the Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace 1, reentered the Earth's atmosphere at about 8:15 am, on April 2, 2018, Beijing time. “The reentry falling area located in the central region of South Pacific. Most of the devices were ablated during the reentry process,” the announcement said.

Fear about Tiangong-1’s return to Earth was grossly overblown. The space lab burned up in a perfect location: the middle of the South Pacific, and there have been no reports of injuries or other misfortunes.

But in the run-up to its return home, speculation ran wild.

The Guardian reported that the space lab had been "out of control" for years and would hit the Earth and could release "a highly toxic and corrosive fuel called hydrazine." But an expert at China Aviation News, Zhang Baoxin, refuted the claim, saying that the experimental space lab had reentered the Earth’s atmosphere because it ran out of fuel and not because China lost control of it, the Global Times reported.

The only thing that was out of control was the Western media speculation. The space lab’s expected reentry was used by some Western media as a propaganda opportunity to fan the flames of fear about China’s rise and to try to cast doubt on China’s space capacity.

American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones warned that China’s first space station was “careening towards the Earth” and when it hits, “8.5 metric tons of burning metal and toxic chemicals will cover an area a thousand miles long.”

Australia's The Today Show posted an actual warning on social media: "WARNING: A doomed space station is right now entering the earth’s atmosphere and is expected to crash into our planet any minute now! The Chinese lost control of The Tiangong-1 space station in outer space two years ago," the tweet said.

But in the end, the space lab burned up safely over the South Pacific. The safe return of the Tiangong-1 has showcased the professionalism and capacity of Chinese scientists. The only thing that has crashed is the tinfoil-hat speculation and fake news.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Wu Chengliang)

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