Manufacturing News from the Engineered Designer Perspective

Tiangong-1 Update

China’s prototype space station has reportedly lost control, and it is on a collision course with Earth. The website Satview has been tracking the space station, and reentry is estimated for Tuesday, April 3rd at 7:37 UTC. The website displays two tracking maps. One shows Tiangong-1’s current path on a global scale, while the other displays a closer view of the object’s current position.

 

 

Tiangong-1 measures 10.4 meters long and weighed a total of 8.5 tonnes, including fuel, at launch. Despite its large size, it is highly unlikely to cause any significant damage. As with other falling space objects, Tiangong-1 will burn once it hits Earth’s atmosphere. A small amount of debris may remain, though the risk of being hit by falling space debris is extremely small. In fact, according to the Aerospace Corporation, the odds of being hit by debris are “1mil times smaller than odds of winning Powerball jackpot – even if you live in ‘high risk’ areas.”

 

 

However, officials have stated that it is currently unclear where specifically the object will land. The Aerospace Corporation estimates that impact will occur on April 1st, while the European Space Agency predicts it will occur anywhere from March 30th to April 6th.

While pinpointing re-entry is typically much easier, this situation is a bit more complicated. Circling Earth at a height of approximately 250 miles requires a speed of 17,500 mph, resulting in a complete orbit every 90 minutes. This makes estimates tricky. At that height, the outer fringes of Earth’s atmosphere drag on spacecraft, causing it to eventually slow down and plummet toward Earth if it is unable to speed up and correct its orbit.

According to orbital-mechanics engineer Jesse Gossner, aerodynamic forces start having an effect at approximately 100 kilometers. “Above 100 kilometers, it’s a lot, lot, lot thinner than down here, and you certainly wouldn’t be able to survive,” he said. “But it’s thick enough to slow you down.”

Gossner likened Tiangong-1 to a stone skipping on water. “This thing can bounce off the atmosphere because it’s going so fast. If it hits on its smooth side, sort of like a rock skipping on a lake, it’ll bounce. But if it hits on a pointy end or on one end of a cylinder, in the direction of the velocity, it could dig in.”

Gossner also stated that once the spacecraft reaches an altitude of 80 miles, it will be approximately 90 minutes away from crashing. However, even knowing where in the atmosphere it hits is not enough to determine where exactly impact will occur, as the debris can spread across a fairly large area. “It’s really just a guessing game.”

However, considering the fact that 71 per cent of Earth’s surface is comprised of water, there is a high probability that Tiangong-1 will make an ocean landing. Typically, space agencies attempt to de-orbit spacecrafts so that they land in what is known as the Pacific Ocean Graveyard, or Spacecraft Cemetery. This area of the Pacific Ocean lies 3,000 miles off the Eastern coast of New Zealand and is over 2 miles deep. Since 1971, over 263 spacecrafts from 4 nations have crash landed here. However, only the largest make it that far, as smaller spacecrafts burn up before reaching the surface.

Although the likelihood of any space debris causing damage or harming people is extremely low, such an occurrence would be covered as outlined in international space law, with liability falling on the government agency to which the spacecraft belongs. “It’s China’s responsibility if someone gets hurt or property gets damaged by this,” said a NASA representative.

Latest Stories

Aerospace in Ontario: More than 200 aerospace companies, 21,000 skilled employees and half of the top 25 global firms

Aerospace in Ontario: More than 200 aerospace companies, 21,000 skilled employees and half of the top 25 global firms

Whether it’s aircraft integration and assembly, or aviaonics systems, or maintenance, repair and overhaul, Ontario is base to 25 of the global aersopace leaders, from Bombardier to Airbus Helicopters, to Raytheon, Honeywell and Sinclair Interplanetary. Ontario aerospace companies tap into an unparalelled infrastructure: lowest overall infrastructure in the G7 nations $6 billion in annual sales…

Propellant leak during emergency abort sets back Boeing’s spacecraft development for NASA

Propellant leak during emergency abort sets back Boeing’s spacecraft development for NASA

Late in June — but breaking in the news now — anomalies in the launch abort system in Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft tests revealed a propellant leak. Starliner spacecraft — and the Boeing space launch system — is part of Boeing’s efforts to develop spacecraft for NASA astronauts. The setback occurred during an emergency abort test…

Danger Doc Robinson: researchers at RMIT University find vehicle vibrations may induce sleep in drivers

Danger Doc Robinson: researchers at RMIT University find vehicle vibrations may induce sleep in drivers

Sleeping behind the wheel kills hundreds of thousands of people each year. According to Transport Canada, an average of twenty per cent of all fatal collisions are due to driver fatigue. The stakes are even bigger with truckers who drive long hauls. New research and practical solutions testings from RMIT University in Australia may have…

Volvo to Expand Production of XC40 SUV in Europe and China

Volvo to Expand Production of XC40 SUV in Europe and China

​Volvo is expanding production of its XC40 SUV in Europe and China in an effort to meet rising demand. According to the company, nearly 80,000 orders have been placed for the SUV, which prompted the company to expand production at its Ghent manufacturing facility. Production capacity will be added at the company’s Luqiao plant in…

Nexen Energy Expansion Announced

Nexen Energy Expansion Announced

​Nexen Energy recently announced that it will spend approximately $400 billion on a 26,000-barrel-per-day expansion of its Long Lake oil sands project in northern Alberta. Plans include adding three steam-driven well pads that will send bitumen to its existing facilities. According to a company spokesperson, site preparation has already begun, with production slated to being…

How Greener Grids Can Stay Lit

How Greener Grids Can Stay Lit

​California recently made headlines after becoming the first state to require solar panels on all new homes. While the move seems at first glance as a major step in the right direction, it also poses a lot of questions regarding the feasibility of the move and its effect on existing distribution networks. ​In order to…

Jaguar Land Rover Set to Move Discovery Production from United Kingdom to Slovakia

Jaguar Land Rover Set to Move Discovery Production from United Kingdom to Slovakia

​Jaguar Land Rover is gearing up for a move from a plant near Birmingham, England to one in Slovakia, a move that is facing criticism as it jeopardizes hundreds of jobs. The company stated in April that approximately 1,000 posts currently filled by workers on short-term contracts would be eliminated following the move and that…

Elon Musk’s Boring Company Making Waves with Latest Announcement

Elon Musk’s Boring Company Making Waves with Latest Announcement

​Elon Musk’s Boring Company gained worldwide attention when Chicago chose the company to build a futuristic, high-speed transportation link between downtown Chicago and the O’Hare Airport. ​“We’re really excited to work with the Mayor and the City to bring this new high-speed public transportation system to Chicago!” said The Boring Company via Twitter. The system,…

Could the Future of Energy be Entirely Renewable?

Could the Future of Energy be Entirely Renewable?

​As the world shifts toward greener alternatives to fossil fuels and eco-friendly lifestyles, we begin to wonder just how far we are capable of going. Are there enough options and resources available to meet all our energy needs in environmentally-friendly ways? Is the vision of a green future with 100 per cent renewable energy feasible?…

Airbus and Bombardier Finalize Deal

Airbus and Bombardier Finalize Deal

​According to a dual announcement earlier this month, Airbus and Bombardier have finalized the C Series partnership agreement which was first announced on October 16th. Bombardier struck the deal with Airbus amid a trade dispute with Boeing, which claimed that the Canadian plane received illegal government aid that unfairly shut out the competition. The partnership…

1 2 3 85Next →

Other Popular News and Stories

  • Manufacturing the sole industry showing job losses in February
  • Volkswagen to produce super-efficient hybrid
  • Bombardier holds update on CSeries aircraft
  • BC refinery close to financing deal
  • SPPCA's new landing gear facility opening in Mississauga
  • Economy managed slight growth in Q4, but shrank in December
  • Canadian business, except energy, had profitable Q4: Statistics Canada
  • Canadian oil production up; producers turning to railways for shipment
  • Skilled labour shortage in world oil industry: report
  • Bombardier nearly ready to flight test CSeries
  • Japex to buy into west coast LNG development
  • Russian leasing company orders 42 CSeries jets from Bombardier
  • GM investing $250 million at Ingersoll plant
  • Clean energy expected to surge as pv costs drop
  • Pratt & Whitney Canada announces helicopter engine contracts
  • Canada keeping up pressure on US for Keystone XL approval
  • FTG Aerospace to supply avionics to Rockwell Collins
  • RV industry has growing role in Canada's economy: study
  • Miners struggling with higher costs, lower prices
  • DART Aerospace re-branding itself to reach wider markets