Chinese space station is falling from space, but where will it land?


The European Space Agency is now predicting the descent as happening somewhere between March 27 and April 8, which, while still a large window, is significantly smaller than what we were able to predict previously.

The Tiangong-1 spacecraft launched in 2011, with the aim of using the craft to set up a larger space station. The European Space Agency says the module will come down between March 24 and April 19, the Guardian report said.

In recent days Aerospace, a United States research organisation that advises government and private enterprise on space flight, also updated its re-entry window.

NASA's 77-ton Skylab space station came hurtling to Earth in an nearly completely uncontrolled descent in 1979, with some large pieces landing outside Perth in Western Australia.

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"There is a chance that a small amount of Tiangong-1 debris may survive reentry and impact the ground", the agency reports.

Exactly where it will hit is slightly harder to predict, although experts agree it will be somewhere between latitudes of 43° north and 43° south. Still, there's a degree of uncertainty, coupled with concerns that the spacecraft could have titanium fuel tanks holding toxic hydrazine, which could be risky if it crashed into an urban area.

He added that Tiangong-1's descent had been speeding up in recent months.

"It's much more common to be hit by lightning", said Dr. William Ailor, principal engineer for the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies at Aerospace.

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It was now falling at about 6km a week, compared to 1.5km in October.

'In the history of spaceflight, no known person has ever been harmed by reentering space debris. It's thought that more information will be gleaned in the coming weeks, although we may not know for sure where Tiangong-1 will hit until its final hours.

There is no need for alarm or concern of being hit by the space debris.

In 2016, China admitted that it had lost control of Tiangong-1 and would be unable to perform a controlled re-entry.

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It said: "If this should happen, any surviving debris would fall within a region that is a few hundred kilometres in size". There are vast areas of North and South America, China, the Middle East, Australia, and parts of Europe where the Chinese space station could scatter debris - but there's also the possibility that it will make a crash landing into the ocean. But we will only know where they are going to land after after the fact'.