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The United States Air Force 18th Space Control Squadron, which tracks and detects all artificial objects in earth's orbit, said they had also tracked the Tiangong-1 as it re-entered the atmosphere over the South Pacific. Heavenly Palace, which is what Tiangong-1 roughly translates to, is far away from the heavens, as whatever's left of it now rests at the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean.

Tiangong-1 is a prototype space station, the first such initiative, launched by the Chinese Government.

Professor Timothy Horbury of London's Imperial College said it was unlikely anyone would be harmed by debris from the space station.

The China Manned Space Engineering Office said most of the space station's components were "ablated" during re-entry. The first was a three-person crew in June 2012 that included the first Chinese woman in space; the second was another three-person crew in June 2013.

The Tiangong-1 body may turn into a fireball as it comes into contact with the Earths' dense atmosphere, but most of it may get burned in the atmosphere itself.

"We believe it was an uncontrolled entry", Thompson said, adding that the corporation's own estimate had been just 15 minutes behind the time announced by China.

The lab "re-entered the atmosphere because it ran out of fuel, not because it's out of control", according to an expert interviewed by the nationalist tabloid the Global Times.

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Space officials had warned that knowing the exact location of the re-entry would not be possible until shortly before it happened.

"One of our missions, which we remain focused on, is to monitor space and the tens of thousands of pieces of debris that congest it, while at the same time working with allies and partners to enhance spaceflight safety and increase transparency in the space domain".

The Tiangong-1 was only supposed to operate for two years, but it lasted two-and-a-half years longer than that.

Back in 1979, NASA was in a similar situation when its 77-ton SkyLab was on a descent back toward Earth.

And on November 3, 2011, Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8 accomplished the country's first automatic rendezvous and docking at a height of 343 kilometres above the Earth surface.

China's space program has made rapid progress since it launched its first crewed mission in 2003 - becoming only the third country after Russian Federation and the U.S.to do so - including placing a rover on the moon and conducting a spacewalk.


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