Countdown to China's space station's fiery return to Earth

03 April, 2018, 06:28 | Author: Rosalie Gross
  • Tiangong-1 reentry updates | Rocket Science - ESA's blogs

Out-of-control Chinese space station Tiangong-1 might not re-enter the atmosphere until Monday afternoon (NZ time) astronomers now say.

The good news is that it's very unlikely that anyone will actually get hit by the spacecraft, which is expected to break up into debris upon re-entry.

China Manned Space is simply predicting that its wayward space station will re-enter sometime between Sunday and Tuesday, Beijing time.

The Paris-based agency, which is managing the global campaign to follow the laboratory's fall, said on Saturday that the time and place of its re-entry continues to be a "highly variable" prediction affected by the changing solar activity, reports Efe news.

No one has ever been killed by space debris and only one person has ever been hit by space debris.

China's first space station, Tiangong-1, or "Heavenly Palace," was launched aboard a Long March 2F/G rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on September 30, 2011.

Tiangong-1 "won't crash to the Earth fiercely, as in sci-fi movie scenarios, but will look more like a shower of meteors", said the CMSEO article.

Zhu Congpeng, from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporate said: "We have been continuously monitoring Tiangong-1 and expect to allow it to fall within the first half of this year".

The predictions for when Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will come crashing back to Earth are becoming more and more exact.

China had said its re-entry would occur in late 2017 but that process was delayed, leading some experts to suggest the space laboratory is out of control.

Mr McDowell has also pointed out that if part of the space station lands in your garden "it's not yours, it's still China's".

Scientists monitoring the craft's disintegrating orbit had forecast the craft would mostly burn up and would pose only the slightest of risks to people.

Most famously, America's 77-ton Skylab crashed through the atmosphere in 1979, spreading pieces of wreckage near the southwestern Australia city of Perth, which fined the USA $400 for littering.

China was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station mainly due to USA legislation barring such cooperation and concerns over the Chinese space program's strong military connections.

Since then, it has orbited gradually closer and closer to Earth on its own while being monitored. China's space program remains highly secretive and some experts have complained that a lack of information about Tiangong 1′s design has made it harder to predict what might happen upon its re-entry. It plans to send a manned mission to the moon in the future.

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