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China's 'Heavenly Palace' space station is crashing to earth (in 2017)

China's first space station is expected to burn up in the atmosphere next year. Where's Sandra Bullock when you need her?

Space module Tiangong-1 waits on the launchpad at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in 2011. Six years later, it's on its way back.

ChinaFotoPress/VCG/Getty Images

China's "Heavenly Palace" space station is crashing to earth.

The 8.5-tonne, 10m-long Tiangong-1 lab, China's first space station, was launched in September 2011. Two manned missions docked with the space station, which included China's first female astronauts Liu Yang and Wang Yaping.

Currently orbiting at an average of 370km (about 230 miles) above the Earth, the station is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere in the second half of 2017. According to government news agency Xinhua, China's manned space engineering office said most of the lab will burn up on its way down.

China launched its second space station, Tiangong-2, on 15 September.

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