Chinese Space Station Set To Crash This Weekend

Keep an eye on the skies over the next week or so! Yes, as they say, "Karma is a bitch" and the human race may bear the brunt of the same because China's Tiangong-1 space station is approaching the Earth. "The issue for us [with Tiangong-1] is not knowing where it's going to land". China hasn't been able to control the station since 2016, three years after the spacecraft's life expectancy had passed.

Little will survive. Even though there are layers of protective material and substances like titanium on board, some parts, including potentially re-usable gear and hardware, are likely to survive re-entry.

The Chinese space agency's latest estimate puts re-entry between Saturday and Wednesday. This works out to the evening of March 30th or March 31st for people living on the West Coast.

The station, headed toward Earth, could be uncontrolled.

The image above shows Tiangong-1, and was captured by French astrophotographer Alain Figer on 27 November 2017. Its re-entry time of 6 days, 6 hours, 37 minutes and 57 seconds centres the re-entry window at 11 p.m. EDT on April 1, 2018.

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The Aerospace Corporations predicted reentry for Tiangong-1.

It's fairly easy to tell where the station is, and its altitude, but there are specific factors that weigh against a more exact predition of when it will fall to Earth. "But exactly where and when is hard to predict because the vehicle will interact with the atmosphere, which is constantly changing", Nell noted.

Astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell has been keeping members of the public and press updated with new data showing the path of the space station for the last few weeks, and he shows no signs of slowing down now.

Basically, the station is still moving at a velocity of 7.8 km/sec (4.8 mi/s) horizontally while it is descending by about 3 cm/sec.

At over 10m in length and weighing more than 8 tonnes, it is larger than most of the man-made objects that routinely re-enter Earth's atmosphere, reports the BBC.

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The probability of impact is however low - only about 0.2%. On Monday, it was at an altitude of about 210km, dropping more than 1.6km every day, and its descent is accelerating.

It was launched back in September 2011 and is unmanned. During its two-year lifespan, two manned and one unmanned mission successfully docked with the station, with one mission including China's first two female astronauts.

Space.com writes: "Tiangong-1 is now circling Earth about every 88 minutes at an average altitude of 134 miles - about half the altitude of the International Space Station - and getting lower each day".

China's Tiangong-1 spaceport station could drop from the skies on April 1.

In its United Nations submission anticipating the craft's fall to Earth, China said the probability "of endangering and causing damage to aviation and ground activities is very low".

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