UNITED STATES—A Chinese space station re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere at 8:15 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 1. The decommissioned station, Tiangong 1, disintegrated upon reentry with minimal intact debris. China’s Manned Space Agency confirmed that “most parts were burned up in the re-entry process.”
Tiangong, which means “heavenly place,” was launched as an unmanned space lab in 2011. One of China’s most high-profile space endeavors, the structure served as a prototype for a future, more permanent station that is slated to launch within a few years.
In May 2017, the Chinese government reported to the United Nations that it’s space lab was non-functional as of March 2016. That same year, China launched another space lab, Tiangong 2.
The last space station to fall to Earth was a Russian station in 2001. The 135 ton craft made a controlled landing, while the Tiangong, a 40 foot long, 8.5 ton space station, made an uncontrolled landing.