In Photos: A Look at China's Space Station That's Crashing to Earth

Roomy quarters?

China's Shenzhou 9 mission commander Jing Haipeng

(Image credit: CNTV)

The space lab was designed to be a habitable station — it's 530 cubic feet (15 cubic meters) inside — for docking and orbital experiments, according to the Aerospace Corporation. The lab has two sleep areas for astronauts.

Here, commander Jing Haipeng waves to a camera after boarding the Tiangong 1 space module following a successful June 18, 2012 docking.

Space junk

Twinkle, twinkle little…piece of orbital debris?

(Image credit: NASA)

Bits of Tiangong-1 reentering Earth's atmosphere will make up just one of lots and lots of space debris orbiting our planet. About 500,000 pieces of debris are orbiting Earth, and about 20,000 of those are bigger than a softball.

Jeanna Bryner
Live Science Editor-in-Chief

Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.