Chinese space station expected to crash down before April 3

Lucy Bush
March 28, 2018

"At no time will a precise time/location prediction from ESA be possible", agency officials said in a statement.

Reduced to a 10 metre long, 8 metric ton piece of space debris, Tiangong-1's orbit has slowly but steadily decayed since, from a distance of over 380 km, down to now less than 300 km as of October 2017, to just over 200 km above Earth's surface, today.

China reportedly lost control of 19,000-pound station almost two years ago, in June of 2016.

Once the satellite falls below 200 kilometres above earth, tracking radar in western Europe would pick it up before it reached Italy and allow authorities to sound the alarm, according to this graphic from ASI.

The agency predicted it would re-enter the Earth's atmosphere from Friday until April 2.

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Tiangong-1's potential re-entry areas.

In case Tiangong-1 causes any extensive damage through its fall, it is China - the launching state - which would be responsible for compensating for the damage.

The European Space Agency made a similar forecast over the weekend, setting the date at between March 30 and April 2, "give or take a few days".

Based on Tiangong-1's orbital details, that will happen somewhere between 43 degrees north latitude and 43 degrees south - a huge swath of the globe that stretches from the South Dakota-Nebraska border all the way down to Tasmania, wrote.

However, the chance of anyone being hit by parts of the space station were miniscule - estimated to be less than one in 1 trillion. There is a number of factors that can affect the space stations impact.

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The Tiangong-1 spacecraft launched with the aim of using the craft to set up a larger space station.

The laboratory comprised several modules and was able to support up to three astronauts for two weeks at a time.

For those are seeking to know the location where Tiangong-1 would crash, it is very hard to predict it for it is moving at a speed of 27,000 kilometres per hour. Much if not all of the debris is likely to fall into the sea.

Advancing China's space programme is a priority for President Xi Jinping, who has called for Beijing to become a global space power with both advanced civilian space flight and capabilities that strengthen national security. "According to the calculations and analysis that have been carried out, most of the structural components of Tiangong-1 will be destroyed through burning during the course of its re-entry".

In case you're concerned about debris, the Virtual Telescope Project reminds us that the possibility of being struck by a chunk of the space station is extremely low.

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