Thursday, March 15, 2018

China's first space station is set to crash back down to earth

The most telling element of this story is the line about the sun's solar flares heating the outside of earths atmosphere causing the orbit to degrade....Aivars Lode

China's first space station, called Tiangong-1 or "Heavenly Palace," will soon explode over Earth into a rain of fiery debris.
The Aerospace Corp., a nonprofit research company, has released its newest prediction about the derelict spacecraft doom. Tiangong-1 may reenter Earth's atmosphere in early April, give or take a week — which means the dead spacecraft could come crashing down as soon as late March.
When it does, extreme heat and pressure caused by plowing through the air at more than 15,000 mph will destroy the 8.5-ton vessel. Not everything may vanish, though.
There's a good chance that gear and hardware left on board could survive intact all the way to the ground, according to Bill Ailor, an aerospace engineer who specializes in atmospheric reentry. That durability is thanks to Tiangong-1's onion-like layers of protective material.
"The thing about a space station is that it's typically got things on the inside," Ailor, who works for The Aerospace Corp., previously told Business Insider. "So basically, the heating will just strip these various layers off.

"If you've got enough layers, a lot of the energy is gone before a particular object falls out, it doesn't get hot, and it lands on the ground."