Tiangong-1 has completed its main tasks and remains a significant milestone of Chinese aerospace history, a Chinese specialist said as the country bid farewell to its first space lab, which re-entered the Earth on Monday morning.
The lab entered the atmosphere over the South Pacific about 8:15 a.m. Monday, and was mostly burned up in the atmosphere, the China Manned Space Engineering Office announced Monday on its official website.
"As far as I know, no damage to the ground has been found so far," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily press conference on Monday.
"Tiangong-1 has completed its main task of docking with targeted spacecraft and China has grasped the technology," Jiao Weixin, a space science professor at Peking University, told the Global Times on Monday.
Tiangong-1 had successfully docked with Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft, and was visited by four male and two female astronauts, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
"With Tiangong-1's contribution, China can confidently welcome the age of the space station, with Tiangong-2 taking on tasks of scientific experiments," Jiao said.
The remnants of Tiangong-1 appeared to have landed about 100 kilometers northwest of Tahiti, Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist at Australian National University, was quoted by Reuters as saying on Monday.
"The area is known as 'the tomb of spacecraft' as it's mainly ocean," Jiao said.
The hashtag "farewell Tiangong-1" garnered more than 47 million views as of press time on Chinese microblog Sina Weibo.
"I watched the launch of Tiangong-1 when I was 12 years old and from then on I fell in love with aerospace! Thank you Tiangong-1," Weibo user Lingshui posted.
"Tiangong-1 is a great step forward in China's space exploration and a milestone of China's development in the area. I'm proud of it," Zhengge01 said on Weibo.
Launched at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China's Gansu Province in 2011, Tiangong-1 was tasked to test rendezvous and docking technologies and so accumulate experience for developing a space station.