To everything there is a season, even for multi-million dollar spacecraft. On April 1, 2018, at approximately 8:15 PM EST, China’s Tiangong-1 spacecraft met its fiery demise in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean.
Fortunately, it fell not far from a remote spot that is designated as a junkyard for defunct space debris. This spot is known as Point Nemo and is as far as you can get from civilization on Earth.
The Point Nemo Graveyard
Point Nemo is approximately 1,670 miles (2,700 km) from the nearest inhabited landmass and has few shipping routes crossing it. This area is officially known as the South Pacific Uninhabited Area.
It started and is still being used by Russia, Europe, and Japan as the final resting place of spacecraft, satellites, and cargo ships. This area of the ocean also has a low population of sea life and at this point, holds over 263 known sunken crafts.
When spacecraft are decommissioned or become inoperable, they can meet several possible fates. One of them is being pushed into very high orbits, far from other orbiting craft such as geosynchronous satellites.
They may be slowed down in a controlled manner and allowed to fall back to Earth in the spacecraft graveyard. Crafts are now designed with materials that are likely to burn up on re-entries such as titanium or aluminum.
For the most part, spacecraft do not survive reentry and burn up in the atmosphere. However, some components do make it past the atmosphere. In such cases, an attempt is made to do a controlled reentry and target Point Nemo.