BEIJING (Reuters) – It is unlikely that any large parts of China’s Tiangong-1 space lab will reach the ground when it falls to Earth, and China has been in close touch with the United Nations about its progress, China’s foreign ministry said on Friday.
The craft is expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at some time from this week, according to China’s manned space program, but no one knows for sure where.
Speaking at a daily news briefing, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the government had been continually informing the U.N. space agency of the latest information about the Tiangong-1.
China had been responsible and transparent, Lu said.
“If there is a need, we will promptly be in touch with the relevant country,” he said.
“As to what I have heard, at present the chances of large fragments falling to the ground are not very great, the probability is extremely small.”
The 10.4-metre-long (34.1-foot) Tiangong-1, or “Heavenly Palace 1”, China’s first space lab, was launched into orbit in 2011 to carry out docking and orbit experiments as part of China’s ambitious space program, which aims to place a permanent station in orbit by 2023.