Debris from a defunct Chinese space to crash to earth

Ask the Aerospace Experts: Countdown to Tiangong-1 Reentry

Keep an eye on the skies over the next week or so! The problem is, we don't know where it is going to crash down! But on March 16, 2016, China reported to the United Nations that telemetry services with Tiangong-1 had "ceased functioning" which caused the space station to become space junk. In its lifetime it was involved in six rendezvous and docking missions with manned Shenzhou spacecraft, and made "significant contributions to the development of China's manned space mission" space authorities said.

Now, it will enter between March 31 and April 4. The exact date and time will increase in accuracy as April 1 approaches. The radar image of Tiangong-1 from different perspectives are terrifying.

While the majority of the eight-tonne spacecraft is likely to burn up while dashing through the atmosphere, some parts of it are expected to hit the ground and this has raised concern just like Skylab had done nearly four decades ago.

According to an FAQ provided by The Aerospace Corporation, the odds of being struck by a falling spacecraft are less than one in 1 trillion.

Chinese Space Station falling: The spacecraft will fall to Earth around EasterWhere will it fall to Earth? This is because the station is travelling at a speed of over 7 kilometres per second. "So just imagine, it's like having the equivalent of a large truck hurtling towards the earth from approximately 2,000km", ISSA director Kristian Zarb Adami said.

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Attendees also will have a chance to tour our facilities and meet one-on-one with our experts to learn more about The Aerospace Corporation's role in supporting government and commercial customers in traffic management and collision avoidance in the increasingly crowded space environment.

But even if it does fall nearby, Aerospace reports you're one million times more likely to win the Powerball jackpot than be hit by a piece of debris from Tiangong-1. The green band between them has lower probability.

China's Tiangong-1 space station isn't long for this orbit. Its uncontrolled fall to Earth shares some similarities with the end of the Skylab space station in 1973; some of Skylab's pieces rained down on rural Australia.

The space lab will fall back to Earth on its own, pulled down by the atmospheric drag. It is assumed that China is unable to control or communicate with the station, though Chinese officials have not confirmed that.

"The worldwide community doesn't know what the craft is made of, and that makes estimating the danger more challenging, as hardened fuel containers could reach the ground while lightweight panels won't won't", he said.

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