The Tiangong-1 Station (Also known as the "Chinese Station") was the Chinese Space Station through the Tiangong program.
Role In Gravity
After the debris hit the Explorer Shuttle, Kowalski mentioned the "Chinese Station", later revealed to be Tiangong. Throughout the film, Tiangong was being seen as a speck in the distance, roughly 100 miles from the ISS or mentioned as the only station containing a Shenzhou capsule which would allow them to get home. After Dr. Stone reached Tiangong which was narrowly crossing paths with the Soyuz by using a fire extinguisher, she entered the abandoned station as it was quickly losing altitude and entering the atmosphere. Two possible explanations for this are that the debris field wiped it out and forced it to begin a descent or the Chinese government intentionally lowered the spacecraft into the atmosphere to reduce space debris since space travel was stopped by the debris anyway. Stone reached the Shenzhou Capsule right as low orbiting debris hit and destroyed the station, alongside the decaying orbit, which lead to the station reentering, destroying it.
- The real-life Chinese Space station is named Tiangong, "Heavenly Palace." At the time of the film's premiere, it consisted of one small inhabitable module. The Tiangong program's goal is construction of a space station much like the one in the film by 2022. Since Gravity is supposed to take place in the near future (despite use of a space shuttle) this is a possibility.
- The real life Tiangong-1 was also launched in September 2011.
- When Dr. Stone enters the Tiangong, an alarm sounds and a computer plays a recorded warning to the station. The recording is in Mandarin Chinese but when translated it is revealed that the recording says: "Danger! Please evacuate the scene (station) immediately."
- Kowalski says the Tiangong is to the west, and so is China.
- The real life Tiangong-1 is no longer in space. In 2016, the China Manned Space Engineering Office announced that Tiangong was no longer in service. Tiangong-1 eventually re-entered the atmosphere over the southern Pacific Ocean on April 2, 2018 at 00:15 UTC. Tiangong-2 was launched in September of 2016 but was deorbited as planned in July of 2019. The modular space station, named "Tiangong" (without a number) is launched in 2021 and slated to be completed by 2022. The current Tiangong Station has similar mass and volume to the Tiangong-1 Station depicted in the movie.