Chinese space station Tiangong-1 could crash to Earth within weeks

The satellite could hit Earth this month More

It's not going to hit Britain, but countries such as Spain and France are potentially in the firing line, according to the European Space Agency. It is now falling by about 6 km a week as compared to 1.5 km last October. The constantly changing "weather" in space makes it hard to predict when the space station would crash-land on Earth.

If you read the New Zealand Herald, you're (a) probably a Kiwi, and (b) building a bunker because you expect a Chinese space station to drop on your head.

The US-funded Aerospace Corporation estimates Tiangong-1 will re-enter the atmosphere during the first week of April, give or take a week.

The ESA has now released a new window for Tiangong-1's eventual crash landing.

In 2016, officials from China confirmed that they could no longer maintain control of the space station Tiangong-1, which means "Heavenly Place" in Chinese, and that it would be crashing into the Earth in late 2017 or early 2018. It is expected to enter the atmosphere between 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south latitudes. "Should this happen, any surviving debris would fall within a region that is a few hundred kilometres in size and centred along a point on the Earth that the station passes over". It is expected that Tiangong-1's re-entry will be longer (and more dazzling) due to its greater size.

Aerospace warned that the space station might be carrying a highly toxic and corrosive substance called hydrazine on board.

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The Aerospace Corporation has said, "When considering the worst-case location ... the probability that a specific person (ie, you) will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot".

"The weight was comparable to an empty soda can", Lottie Williams told FoxNews.com in 2011 while describing the incident.

Generally, objects will burn up for a few seconds upon re-entering, looking a lot like shooting stars blazing a trail of fire behind them. "Every couple of years something like this happens, but Tiangong-1 is big and dense so we need to keep an eye on it". Any surviving pieces would have fallen into the ocean.

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist from Harvard University, seems a bit less anxious about the satellite than some, but he still has a note of caution, as he told The Guardian. The 8.5-tonne space station was launched in 2011. Liu Yang was the first Chinese female astronaut who visited there in 2012. While the space lab was expected to end its operation in 2013, the Chinese space agency chose to extend its lifespan for a few more years. In 1979, bits of Skylab, America's first space station, re-entered and landed in Australia.

In 1991 the Soviet Union's 20-tonne Salyut 7 space station crashed to Earth while still docked to another 20-tonne spacecraft called Cosmos 1686.

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