Xi Jinping, his plunging Heavenly Palace Space Station & Memories of Sky Lab


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The much touted Chinese Space Station called Tiangong-1 is out of control and has been since 2016. However the big news is that its going re-enter earth’s atmosphere in the last week of March of first week of April 2018 and the regions which may feel the impact  of this 8.5 tonne beast are Northern China (ironically), the Middle East, Central Italy and north Spain, the northern States of the U.S.A, New Zealand, parts of South America and Southern Africa.

The only certainty is that its going to plunge back to earth.  Where exactly is a mystery as the Chinese have no idea despite sending it into space with much fanfare in 2011 and boasting about its symbol of that country’s brilliance, sent onto the dark vacuum by gifted scientists.

The Tiangong-1 which means Heavenly Palace was described by the usual fawning factotums of Beijing central as a potent political symbol. If this was a symbol of anything, perhaps its a comment from the Cosmos about Xi Jinping’s imminent emperor status. Within a month of his government announcing that the restriction on president terms would be scrapped paving the way for Xi to become president for life, a symbol of Chinese state central control plummets to earth in a fiery death.

Don’t you just love the real world? Stop reading fiction, non-fiction is far more interesting.  So not quite the Phoenix this Tiangong-1, it’s more Icarus and post-Confucian bombast and spin.


Kind of reminds one of Sky Lab.  I was a child when the first space station called Sky Lab was dragged back to earth by the globe’s powerful gravity and burnt itself out in 1979 as it descended through the atmosphere.  We were all nervous about the Chicken Little impact of the sky falling on our heads and there was a real South African link.

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Sky Lab

NASA tried to aim the Sky Lab at a point in the ocean 1,300 kilometers south east of Cape Town in 1979, but it didn’t burn up as quickly as expected. Bits of debris plunged into the ground east of Perth in Australia and dozens of pieces were found later leading to a roaring trade for the scrabbling farmers of the Western Territories. The big surprise about Sky Lab was the fact that it only really disintegrated 16 kilometers above the earth’s surface, much lower than anticipated.

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Sky Lab started out as a symbol of NASA’s brilliance but ended in a brilliant shower of debris sprayed across an Australian desert.

While they tended to build things better in the old days, the prognosis for our Heavenly Palace is not good. It’s larger than Sky Lab and has a heady cocktail of dangerous gases and minerals on board including hydrazine. This material is unstable and highly toxic. But no worries, the chances of bits of the Heavenly Palace landing on your nut are much much less than winning the lottery.

Not a small machine – the Tiangong-1.


However if you were clobbered by said Palace, I’m sure you and a few lawyers could approach the Imperial Palace in Beijing where Emperor Xi’s advocates and attorney’s may find it in their hearts to cough up a few million yuan in damages.

Or not.




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