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Satnews Daily
March 24th, 2016

China's Tiangong-1's Days Are Terminated

Artistic rendition of China's Tiangong-1.

[Satnews] Xinhuanet is reporting that after an operational orbit of 1,630 days, China's first space lab—Tiangong-1—terminated its data service, according to the Chinese manned space engineering office said Monday.

The functions of the space laboratory and target orbiter have been disabled after an extended service period of about 2-1/2 years, although it remains in designed orbit, according to the office. Tiangong-1 was launched in September of 2011 with a design life of two years.

It had successfully docked with the Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft and undertaken a series of experiments, contributing to the nation's space program, the office said. The lab had completed its main missions following Shenzhou-10's return to Earth in June 2013.

During its extended flight, Tiangong-1 conducted experiments on space technology, space-earth remote sensing and space environment exploration, according to the office.

Tiangong-1 was invaluable to scientists understanding of the construction and management of a space station, the office said.

The aim of China's multi-billion-dollar space program is to put a permanent manned space station into service around 2022. By around 2020, the country's first orbiting space station should be completed.

The flight orbit of the space lab, which will descend gradually in the coming months, is under continued and close monitoring, according to the office, which said the orbiter will burn up in the atmosphere eventually.