Chinese Space Station to Come Crashing Down to Earth on Easter Weekend

Tiangong-1 rendering 1 photo
Between March 30 and April 3, two seemingly unrelated events will take place: some 1.3 billion Catholics will be observing Easter, and China’s first prototype space station will come crashing down towards Earth. By then, there will be some, we’re sure, linking the two events into some doomsday scenario.
After spending a little over seven years in space, China’s Tiangong-1 has been on a decaying orbit for quite some time now. In 2016, the Chinese Space Engineering Office announced the telemetry link with the station has been lost and estimated a reentry sometime in 2017.

For some months now, space agencies across the planet have been trying to figure out where and when the station will begin burning up in the atmosphere.

The latest estimate comes from the European Space Agency (ESA), which says it has calculated the most likely date when the event will happen is around Easter. The agency, however, warns that “at no time will a precise time/location prediction from ESA be possible.

The fact that there is little-known information about the station outside China also makes it hard to predict whether some or any parts of the 8.5 tons station would survive the scorching temperatures and fall onto the ground.

The Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the country’s main contractor for the space program, says “there is a chance that a small amount of Tiangong-1 debris may survive reentry and impact the ground.

Where will that happen no one knows. CASC says any surviving debris would fall within a region that is a few hundred kilometers in size along the area over which the station passes.

ESA, on the other hand, is even more unsure, placing possible debris falling anywhere from mid-U.S. to the southernmost tip of South America, on all of Africa and Australia, half of Asia and Southern Europe.

That’s anywhere between 40 degrees North and 40 degrees South, including over areas with an average population density of some 60 people per square km.

The chances of some space debris hitting people or cities are however small, claim scientists, betting much of their prediction on the fact that debris would be tiny and the Earth is very large.

Some say the odds of getting squashed are one million times smaller than the odds of someone winning the U.S. Powerball jackpot.

Live tracking of the space station's whereabouts is available here.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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