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Tiangong-1 (Chinese: 天
Tiangong-1 Target Vehicle
宫 一 号 ; pinyin: Tiāngōng
天 ⼀号目 ⾏器
yīhào; literally: "Heavenly
Palace 1" or "Celestial
Palace 1") was China's first
prototype space station.[8]
It orbited Earth from
September 2011 to April
2018, serving as both a
manned laboratory and an Model of Tiangong space lab with attached Shenzhou manned spacecraft
experimental testbed to
demonstrate orbital
rendezvous and docking
capabilities during its two
years of active operational

Launched unmanned
aboard a Long March 2F/G
rocket[1] on 29 September
2011,[10] it was the first
operational component of
the Tiangong program,
which aims to place a
larger, modular station into
orbit by 2023.[9][11]
Tiangong-1 was initially
projected to be deorbited in Plan diagram of Tiangong-1 with solar panels extended
2013,[12] to be replaced Station statistics
over the following decade COSPAR ID 2011-053A (
by the larger Tiangong-2
Crew 3
and Tiangong-3
Launch 29 September 2011[1][2] at 21:16:03.507 CST
modules,[13] but it orbited
until 2 April 2018.[3][4][5] Carrier Long March 2F/G
[14][15] rocket
Launch pad Jiuquan LA-4/SLS-1
Tiangong-1 was visited by a
Reentry 2 April 2018 00:16 UTC ± 1 minute (JFSCC/J3)[3][4]
series of Shenzhou
spacecraft during its two- 2 April 2018 00:15 UTC (CMSE)[5]
year operational lifetime. Mission Complete[4]
The first of these, the status
unmanned Shenzhou 8,
Mass 8,506 kg (18,753 lb)[6]
successfully docked with
Length 10.4 m (34.1 ft)
the module in November
2011,[16][17] while the Diameter 3.35 m (11.0 ft)
manned Shenzhou 9

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mission docked in June Pressurised 15 m3 (530 cu ft)[7]

2012.[18][19][20] A third and volume
final mission to Tiangong-1,
Days in 6 years, 185 days
the manned Shenzhou 10,
docked in June 2013.[21]
[22][23] The manned missions to Tiangong-1 were notable for including China's first female
astronauts, Liu Yang and Wang Yaping.[22][24]
Simplified Chinese
On 21 March 2016, after a lifespan extended by two years, the China Manned Space Traditional Chinese 天宮一號
Engineering Office announced that Tiangong-1 had officially ended its service.[25][26] They
Literal meaning Celestial
went on to state that the telemetry link with Tiangong-1 had been lost.[27] A couple of
Palace-1 or
months later, amateur satellite trackers watching Tiangong-1 found that China's space
agency had lost control of the station.[27] In September, after conceding they had lost
control over the station, officials speculated that the station would re-enter and burn up in
the atmosphere late in 2017.[28][29] According to the China Manned Space Engineering

Office, Tiangong-1 reentered over the South Pacific Ocean, northwest of Tahiti, on 2 April Standard Mandarin
2018 at 00:15 UTC.[4][5][14][15] Hanyu Pinyin Tiāngōng yīhào
Gwoyeu Tiangong ihaw
Wade–Giles T'ien1kung1
Contents i1hao4
Design and development Yue: Cantonese
Yale Tyangung yihau
Onboard facilities
Mission profile Jyutping Tingung jathou
Southern Min
Orbital transfers and testing Hokkien POJ Thian-kong it-hō
Autonomous orbital docking Target Vehicle
Manned missions
Simplified Chinese
Shenzhou 9 Traditional Chinese 目標飛行器
Shenzhou 10 Literal meaning Target Vehicle

Post-mission Transcriptions
Re-entry Standard Mandarin
Program developments Hanyu Pinyin Mùbiāo Fēixíngqì
See also Gwoyeu muhbiau
References Romatzyh feishyngchih
External links Wade–Giles mu4piao1

Design and development

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) designed Tiangong- 1 as an 8.5-tonne (19,000 lb) "space-laboratory module",
capable of supporting the docking of manned and autonomous spacecraft. In 2008, the China Manned Space Engineering Office
(CMSEO) released a brief description of Tiangong-1, along with its larger successor modules, Tiangong-2 and Tiangong-3. A model of
the space station was revealed in the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration program on CCTV on 25 January 2009.[30]

On 29 September 2008, Zhāng Jiànqǐ (張建啟), vice-director of the CMSEO, declared in an interview with China Central Television
(CCTV)[31] that Tiangong-1 would be launched in 2010 or 2011. Xinhua later stated that Tiangong-1 would be launched in late 2010,

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and declared that the renovation of ground equipment was in progress.[32] However, the launch did not ultimately take place until

By mid-2011, the construction of Tiangong-1 was complete, and its systems and thermal properties were undergoing testing. Testing
was also conducted on the Long March 2F carrier rocket on which Tiangong-1 would be launched; technicians undertook particularly
extensive safety tests on the rocket in August and September 2011,[10] following the launch failure of a Long March 2C rocket on 18

Tiangong-1 had a pressurised habitable volume of approximately 15 cubic metres (530 cu ft), and used passive APAS-type docking
connectors.[34] Structurally, Tiangong-1 was divided into two primary sections: a resource module, which mounted its solar panels
and propulsion systems, and a larger, habitable experimental module.[35]

Onboard facilities
Tiangong-1's experimental module was equipped with exercise gear and two sleep stations.[7] The interior walls of the spacecraft had
a two-color paint scheme – one color representative of the ground, and the other representative of the sky. This was intended to help
the astronauts maintain their orientation in zero gravity.[7] High-resolution interior cameras allowed manned missions to be closely
monitored from the ground, and the two sleep stations had individual lighting controls.[36] Toilet facilities and cooking equipment for
the manned missions were provided by the docked Shenzhou spacecraft, rather than being integrated into the Tiangong module
itself.[36] Similarly, one member of the module's three-person crew slept in the Shenzhou spacecraft, preventing overcrowding.[36]

Mission profile

Tiangong-1 was originally intended to be launched in August 2011, and was delivered to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on 23
July, successfully passing a launch rehearsal test on 17 August.[37] However, following the failed launch of a Long March 2C rocket in
August 2011, the launch was postponed. Following an investigation into the August launch failure,[10][38] Tiangong-1's launch was
rescheduled for late September 2011,[39] partly to coincide with the Chinese National Day on 1 October.[40]

On 20 September 2011, the spacecraft was again rolled out to Pad 1 of the South Launch Site at Jiuquan in preparation for the
rescheduled launch attempt.[41] The launch occurred at 13:16 UTC on 29 September, successfully placing Tiangong-1 into low Earth
orbit.[37] Chinese television broadcast the launch animation accompanied by an instrumental version of the American patriotic song
America the Beautiful, a choice of music for which it later offered no explanation.[42]

Orbital transfers and testing

On 2 October 2011, Tiangong-1 completed the second of two orbital transfer maneuvers, reaching an apogee altitude of 362
kilometres (225 mi).[43] This was the precursor to a week-long program of orbital testing, conducted from the Beijing Aerospace
Command and Control Center, to prepare the module for future orbital docking operations.[43] On 10 October, Tiangong-1 released
its first orbital photo, showing a view of its outer hull and satellite relay antenna.[44]

Autonomous orbital docking

The unmanned Shenzhou 8 mission successfully docked with Tiangong-1 on 2 November 2011 GMT, marking China's first orbital
docking.[16] Shenzhou 8 undocked from Tiangong-1 on 14 November, before successfully completing a second rendezvous and

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docking, thus testing the reusability of the docking system.[17][45][46] Shenzhou 8

deorbited on 17 November 2011, and landed intact in Siziwang Banner in Inner
Mongolia.[47] After the mission, the CNSA reported that Tiangong-1's systems were in
optimal condition.[48]

Manned missions

Diagram of Tiangong-1 (left) docked
In December 2011, the Tiangong-1 module began automated internal checks for toxic gas, to a Shenzhou spacecraft (right).
to ensure that its interior would be safe for astronauts to enter.[49] In January 2012,
reports emerged alleging that the American X-37B robotic spaceplane was shadowing
Tiangong-1 for surveillance purposes.[50] However, former United States Air Force orbital analyst Brian Weeden later refuted this
claim, emphasizing that the X-37B occupied a different orbit from Tiangong-1, and would not be able to closely observe the

Shenzhou 9
In March 2012, it was reported that China had finished the initial crew selection for the
Shenzhou 9 mission. Niu Hongguang, the deputy chief commander of the China Manned
Space Engineering Project, stated that Shenzhou 9 would dock with Tiangong-1 before
August 2012.[52] The Shenzhou 9 spacecraft was delivered to Jiuquan Satellite Launch
Center for launch preparations on 9 April 2012,[53] while its Long March 2F carrier rocket
arrived a month later on 9 May.[54]
The three members of Shenzhou 9's
Shenzhou 9 launched successfully on 16 June 2012, carrying with it China's first female crew. Liu Yang, China's first female
astronaut, Liu Yang.[18][20][24][55] The spacecraft docked with Tiangong-1 on 18 June 2012 astronaut, is shown on the right.

at 14:07 Beijing time (06:07 GMT; 07:07 BST).[19] After about three hours, when the air
pressures inside the two vessels were equalized, mission commander Jing Haipeng
entered Tiangong-1.[56] The first docking was entirely computer-controlled, without input from the three astronauts;[19] a second,
crew-guided docking was successfully conducted on 24 June 2012 at 12:42 Beijing time.[57] Shenzhou 9 landed safely in Inner
Mongolia on 29 June 2012.[58] In August 2012, Shenzhou 9's crew travelled to Hong Kong to discuss their mission with university

Shenzhou 10
The manned Shenzhou 10 spacecraft, the final Shenzhou mission to rendezvous with
Tiangong-1 before its deorbit, was launched on 11 June 2013.[21][22][60] The launch of
Shenzhou 10 was originally planned for earlier in the year, but was delayed to allow the
mission to incorporate more complex scientific experiments.[61] The mission's crew
included China's second female astronaut, Wang Yaping.[22] Shenzhou 10 docked
successfully with Tiangong-1 on 13 June.[23]

On 15 June 2013, the Shenzhou 10 crew completed China's first orbital maintenance
operation, replacing Tiangong-1's interior cladding.[62] Additional maintenance work was Map of Tiangong-1's orbits in June
conducted on the space station's seal rings.[62] On 20 June, Wang Yaping delivered a
remote video lecture from orbit to students across China, demonstrating physics in
microgravity with her colleagues.[63] On 24 June, CPC general secretary Xi Jinping contacted the astronauts via remote video link to
congratulate them.[64] After a series of successful docking tests, Shenzhou 10 undocked and returned safely to Earth on 26 June
2013.[65] With a duration of 15 days, Shenzhou 10 was China's longest manned space mission,[66] until Shenzhou 11's 30-day mission
to Tiangong-2 in 2016.[67]

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The Tiangong-1 was launched in September 2011, with an intended service span of two years. After the last crew departed the module
in June 2013, it was put into sleep mode. It was intended that it would remain in orbit for some time, allowing China to collect data
on the longevity of key components before being commanded to gradually re-enter the atmosphere. The Permanent Mission of China
to the United Nations informed the Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space that the Tiangong-1 had ceased functioning on 16
March 2016.[68] On 21 March 2016, the Manned Space Engineering Office announced that they had disabled data service, since the
space station had operated two-and-a-half years longer than its intended two-year service plan. According to the office, the space
laboratory was under continued and close monitoring until it finally burned up in the Earth's atmosphere during an uncontrolled re-

The orbit of Tiangong-1 was decaying gradually, and the space laboratory was predicted to
be destroyed upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.[70][71][72]

At the request of China and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, the Inter-
Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), led by the European Space Agency
(ESA), conducted an international campaign to monitor the re-entry of Tiangong-1. ESA's
Space Debris Office in Darmstadt, Germany hosted and administered the campaign, with
participation from other space agencies and organizations including the China National
Space Administration, the Indian Space Research Organisation, the Japan Aerospace
Exploration Agency, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, and Roscosmos.[73] The IADC
predicted that Tiangong-1 would break up during re-entry, but that parts of the station [Full screen]
would survive and fall to the Earth's surface, potentially falling across an
area thousands of kilometres long and tens of kilometres wide. However,
because most of the re-entry area was ocean or uninhabited land, the IADC
calculated the odds of a person being hit by falling debris to be infinitesimal
("the personal probability of being hit by a piece of debris from the
Tiangong-1 is 10 million times smaller than the yearly chance of being hit by Map showing the probability of re-entry of
lightning").[69] The IADC's final prediction before re-entry was that Tiangong 1 by latitude. Latitudes shaded red were
Tiangong-1 would re-enter at around 01:00 UTC on 2 April 2018, plus or most likely; latitudes shaded green were least
likely. Areas outside possible re-entry latitudes
minus 2 hours, falling somewhere on Earth between 42.8° North and 42.8°
are not pictured.[69]
South latitudes,[74][75] with the most likely re-entry points being at the north
and south extremes of that range. This is because the station's high-
inclination orbit had the smallest north-south speed at the extreme latitudes, and the greatest north-south speed near the

Independently, the non-profit The Aerospace Corporation's Center for Orbital and Re-entry Debris Studies (CORDS) predicted that
Tiangong-1 would most likely re-enter the atmosphere around 00:30 UTC on 2 April 2018, plus or minus 1.7 hours. CORDS scientists
also predicted that it would re-enter somewhere between the 42.7° North and 42.7° South latitudes, a range that covered two-thirds
of the Earth's surface, with a high likelihood of an ocean landing of whatever did not burn up during re-entry.[76] They predicted that
if any parts of the station survived re-entry, the small amount of debris would impact the ground over an area a few hundred square
kilometers in size.[77] The final prediction of likely areas for debris impact covered southern South America, Africa, the Middle East,
and central Asia.[77][78] However, even in those high-probability areas, they still estimated the odds of a person being hit by debris to
be infinitesimal.[79]

Tiangong-1 reentered the Earth's atmosphere at 00:16 UTC on 2 April 2018 over the South Pacific Ocean at 24.5°S 151.1°W.[4][77]
According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, the station mostly burnt up upon re-entry.[80] It was the largest spacecraft to re-
enter the atmosphere since Fobos-Grunt in January 2012.[69] This was about 3,600 kilometres (2,200 mi) from Point Nemo, a
location often used as a spacecraft cemetery to crash defunct satellites.[81]

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Altitude of Tiangong-1 from March 2017[82]

Final orbit into pacific ocean with 10

minute markers

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Altitude of Tiangong-1 (km)[82]

Date Orbital
Average Perigee Apogee Source
(CST) inclination

[1] (
2017/3/20 348.3 334.8 361.8 42.8 /art/2017

--- --- --- --- --- --- ---

[2] (
2018/1/7 281.3 265.1 297.4 42.77 /art/2018

--- --- --- --- --- --- ---

[3] (
2018/3/14 240.8 233.4 248.2 42.68 /art/2018

[4] (
2018/3/15 239.5 232.5 246.5 42.67 /art/2018

[5] (
2018/3/16 237.8 231.0 244.7 42.66 /art/2018

[6] (
2018/3/17 235.9 229.3 242.6 42.66 /art/2018

[7] (
2018/3/18 233.8 227.3 240.4 42.65 /art/2018

[8] (
2018/3/19 231.8 225.4 238.2 42.65 /art/2018

[9] (
2018/3/20 229.3 222.9 235.8 42.65 /art/2018

[10] (
2018/3/21 227.0 220.3 233.6 42.64 /art/2018

[11] (
2018/3/22 224.8 217.8 231.8 42.64 /art/2018

[12] (
2018/3/23 222.4 215.1 229.6 42.64 /art/2018

[13] (
2018/3/24 219.4 211.6 227.2 42.65 /art/2018

[14] (
2018/3/25 216.2 208.1 224.3 42.65 /art/2018

[15] (
2018/3/26 212.0 203.9 220.0 42.65 /art/2018

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Date Orbital
Average Perigee Apogee Source
(CST) inclination

[16] (
2018/3/27 207.7 199.2 216.3 42.66 /art/2018

[17] (
2018/3/28 202.3 193.9 210.8 42.67 /art/2018

[18] (
2018/3/29 196.4 188.5 204.3 42.67 /art/2018

[19] (
2018/3/30 189.5 181.8 197.2 42.68 /art/2018

[20] (
2018/3/31 179.0 171.8 186.2 42.69 /art/2018

[21] (
2018/4/1 167.6 161.0 174.3 42.70 /art/2018

[22] (
2018/4/2 132.75 130.9 134.6 42.70 /art/2018

Program developments
Tiangong-1 was designed as a test bed for key technologies later used on another test station called Tiangong-2, which was launched
on 15 September 2016.[83] Both experimental space stations are short-lived and meant to test technologies and systems for a
permanent future space station called Chinese large modular space station, which is planned to be assembled from 2019 to 2022.[84]

The design of Tianzhou, an automated cargo spacecraft intended to resupply the Chinese large modular space station, is based on

See also
Agena target vehicle
Chinese space program
Chinese women in space
International Space Station

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