Rare shots published by Chinese media show that the Tiangong-2 space laboratory caught fire when the station re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere as part of its controlled destruction.
The video, posted on YouTube by the China Global Television Network (CGTN), shows part of the station building with what looks like a communication plate during a fire descent. At some point in the background flashes of flame are visible, and the body is absorbed by the bright glow of the plasma.
The Space Agency of China used an 8-ton ten-meter station as a test bench for orbital technology, including docking and refueling. Launched in 2016, it hosted a manned mission lasting one month later that same year.
The space laboratory re-entered Earth's atmosphere on Friday around 9:06 pm Beijing time (1:06 GMT). It almost completely burned out in the atmosphere, while a small amount of the remaining litter fell to "safe area" in the South Pacific, according to Chinese officials.
It is expected that a decommissioned station will be replaced by a large modular space laboratory. Its first module is planned to launch into orbit in 2020.
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