From a new SpaceX launch to the difficult re-entry of China’s Tiangong-1, a lot happened in outer space this weekend.
SpaceX launched its Iridium-5 Falcon 9 mission, which will carry 10 satellites to add to Iridium's NEXT global communications constellation. This objective is halfway through, with five more launches set to send 10 satellites each for a total of 75. They reused a flight proven rocket and a Falcon 9 booster with a plan to target low-Earth orbit. The goal is to provide commercial communications capabilities to Iridium clients on Earth. This comes on the heels of SpaceX launching Elon Musk’s cherry red sports car into outer space.
On the other end of the spectrum, with a spacecraft re-entering as opposed to launching, China’s Tiangong-1 had a hard time coming back down to Earth. The name translates to “Heavenly Palace” and the craft was launched in 2011 to carry out docking and orbit experiments. It was a prototype for China’s first space station and served as a testing platform for bigger projects. The hope is to eventually have a permanent Chinese space station. Below is an image of the International Space Station.
But unfortunately, experts correctly predicted that it wouldn’t make it back unharmed. On its path into the Pacific Ocean the space lab burned up in the atmosphere. Some thought the fiery space debris could have actually landed in parts of the US, but the odds of it actually hitting someone were incredibly improbable. Scientists were quoted as saying the possibility was “10 million times smaller than the yearly chance of being hit by lightning." Check out the incredible video below to see the amazing re-entry…