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Chinese space station will soon plummet to Earth

China’s decommissioned Tiangong-1 space station will likely fall to Earth late next year in an apparently unscheduled retirement, Popular Mechanics reports. Launched in 2011, the small prototype space station was abandoned in 2013 at the end of its life span. Now, however, Chinese officials have announced that the space station will burn up in Earth’s atmosphere sometime late next year. The uncertainty about the exact date of the destruction has led observers to conclude that Chinese space officials can’t control the station’s descent, potentially meaning debris could fall over land as happened to NASA’s Skylab station in 1979.

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