Yuan Chen | VCG | Getty Images
A Long March-7 Y2 carrier rocket carrying China’s first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 blasts off from Wenchang Space Launch Center on April 20, 2017.
China’s Tiangong-1 space station is forecast to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere over a remote part of the South Atlantic between 8:11 a.m. and 9:33 a.m. (00:11-01:33 GMT) on Monday, the country’s space authority said.
The craft is expected to re-enter in an area around 19.4 degrees west, 10.2 degrees south, the authority said on its website, giving it a position southwest of the tiny British South Atlantic island of Ascension.
Beijing said on Friday it was unlikely any large pieces would reach the ground.
The 10.4-metre-long (34.1-foot) Tiangong-1, or “Heavenly Palace 1”, was launched in 2011 to carry out docking and orbit experiments as part of China’s ambitious space programme, which aims to place a permanent station in orbit by 2023.
It was originally planned to be decommissioned in 2013 but its mission was repeatedly extended.
China had said its re-entry would occur in late 2017 but that process was delayed, leading some experts to suggest the space laboratory is out of control.
The Chinese tabloid Global Times said on Monday worldwide media hype about the re-entry reflected overseas “envy” of China’s space industry.
“It’s normal for spacecraft to re-enter the atmosphere, yet Tiangong-1 received so much attention partly because some Western countries are trying to hype and sling mud at China’s fast-growing aerospace industry,” it said.