China's space station expected to fall to Earth on … Easter Sunday
- Author: Joey Payne Apr 01, 2018,
Apr 01, 2018, 2:44
Advancing China's space program 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.
It'll likely be one of the last times we see Tiangong-1 - at least, aside from debris that is likely to survive the burn and land on Earth.
Tiangong-1 launched in September 2011. Chinese officials announced in March 2016 they lost control of the space station, but amateur satellite trackers claim the station has been orbiting uncontrolled since at least June 2016, according to the agency.
According to European space agency's forewarning, the space station will hit earth any time between Saturday morning and Sunday evening. Burning pieces of the station will likely stay visible for a minute or more, making for great viewing if the day is clear, says Markus Dolensky, technical director at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research.
The Chinese government told the United Nations' space committee earlier this week that "The probability of damage to aviation activities and human life and facilities on Earth is extremely low".
Space debris should be considered hazardous.
The dramatic reentry will be unmissable, but keen astronomers are keeping their eyes peeled for Tiangong-1 throughout its final days.
The out-of-control Chinese Space Station will crash later than an expected.
"This means that re-entry may take place over any spot on Earth between these latitudes, which includes several European countries, for example". But you can track the current location of Tiangong-1 using SatView and other sources.
The intensifying heat and friction will cause the main structure to burn or blow up, and it should disintegrate at an altitude of around 80 kilometres, it said. Though, scientists and engineers still can not pinpoint where and when the 9.4-tonne school bus-size space station will fall.
Experts have downplayed any concerns about the Tiangong-1 causing any damage when it hurtles back to Earth, with the ESA noting that almost 6,000 uncontrolled re-entries of large objects have occurred over the past 60 years without harming anyone.
The chances are 1 million times greater of winning the Powerball jackpot than by being hit.
We don't know exactly where the station will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere, but the best guess is between 43 North and 45 South latitudes, Aerospace.org reported.