Chinese Tiangong-2 Space Station Behaving Strangely
You’ve likely heard of the Tiangong-1 satellite that crashed back to Earth, well there is also Tiangong-2 which was launched back in 2016.
China’s Tiangong-2 space station recently spent ten days 95km closer to the Earth than its usual orbit.
The perplexing maneuver has sparked rumors suggesting that the station, which serves as a test facility for new space technologies, may soon be decommissioned.
The station’s predecessor, Tiangong-1, plummetted back to Earth in an uncontrolled descent that saw it crash in to the Pacific Ocean back in April of this year.
Details of the change in orbit were published by the US Strategic Command’s Joint Force Space Component Command before being commented on by astronomer Jonathan McDowell.
“My best fit to the data is that TG-2 reboosted at 0117 and 0202 UTC Jun 22, for a total delta-V of 56 m/s and a propellant usage of about 144 kg,” McDowell wrote on Twitter. “Possibly just testing out the spacelab’s engine reliability after 2 years in orbit, as part of end-of-life tests ?”
Despite requests for information, the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) has so far failed to offer any sort of explanation for the station’s unusual behavior.
Image Credit: CMSE