The stations is now hurtling to towards the South Pacific. Picture: Supplied
The stations is now hurtling to towards the South Pacific. Picture: Supplied

Out-of-control space station hits Earth

THE massive defunct space station hurtling towards Earth has finally crashed - according to Chinese space authorities.

However, it is believed that the Tiangong 1 craft mostly burned up on re-entry into the atmosphere over the central South Pacific.

It has landed in the South Pacific after it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere at 10.16am AEST.

Only about 10 per cent of the bus-sized, 8.5-tonne spacecraft will likely survive being burned up on re-entry, mainly its heavier components such as its engines.

The US Strategic Command's Joint Force Space Component Command (JFSCC) issued a statement saying that its re-entry was confirmed through co-ordination with counterparts in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and the UK.

The China Manned Space Engineering Office said the experimental space laboratory re-entered around 8:15am. Monday.

Scientists monitoring the craft's disintegrating orbit had forecast the craft would mostly burn up and would pose only the slightest of risks to people. Analysis from the Beijing Aerospace Control Center showed it had mostly burned up.

The US Strategic Command's Joint Force Space Component Command (JFSCC) issued a statement saying that its re-entry was confirmed through co-ordination with counterparts in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and the UK.

The station has landed northwest of Tahiti.

China's falling space station Tiangong-1 can be seen in this radar image. Picture: Fraunhofer Institute FHR via AP
China's falling space station Tiangong-1 can be seen in this radar image. Picture: Fraunhofer Institute FHR via AP

Launched in 2011, Tiangong 1 was China's first space station, serving as an experimental platform for bigger projects, such as the Tiangong 2 launched in September 2016 and a future permanent Chinese space station. Two crews of Chinese astronauts lived on the station while testing docking procedures and other operations. Its last crew departed in 2013 and contact with it was cut in 2016.

Since then, it has orbited gradually closer and closer to Earth on its own while being monitored.

Earlier forecasts had said only about 10 per cent of the bus-sized, 8.5-ton spacecraft would likely survive re-entry, mainly its heavier components such as its engines.

- with AAP