Chinese officials have confirmed that the country's first space lab is expected to fall into the Earth's atmosphere in the latter half of 2017, sparking speculation that authorities have lost control of the 10.4 meter long module that weighs 8.5 tons.
Launched in 2011 and known as the Tiangong-1, China's orbiting space laboratory was scrapped earlier this year after its functions failed following two years in space. Last week, Wu Ping, deputy director of the manned space engineering office, told a press conference it had "comprehensively fulfilled its historical mission" and was currently intact and orbiting at an average height of 370 kilometers.
"Based on our calculation and analysis, most parts of the space lab will burn up during falling," she said, according to the state-owned Xinhua news agency.
She said that it was unlikely to affect aviation activities or cause damage to the ground and that China highly values the management of space debris.