01 April, 2018
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. For a brief time, Tiangong-1 supported two successful missions that included China's first female astronauts.
An out-of-control Chinese space laboratory, Tiangong-1 that will plunge back to Earth in the coming days is unlikely to cause any damage, Chinese authorities say, but will offer instead a "splendid" show akin to a meteor shower. "But luckily, most of the earth is made up of water and it is likely that the Tiangong-1 will end up in a safe unpopulated zone like the Pacific", Zarb Adami said. Even though space observatories and scientists have expressed that there's no danger from the crashing space station, Michigan, which falls in the line of potential crash sites, is preparing for impact.
Only one person has EVER reported being hit by space debris, a piece that glanced off their shoulder.
While the Tiangong-1 is a large object falling to Earth it is not the largest object to fall back from space, the MIR a Russian space station plummeted to earth in 2001 and landed in the Pacific Ocean. Tiangong-1, like everything else in orbit around the Earth, is speeding at about 17,000 miles per hour, circling the planet more than a dozen times a day.
Given the uncontrolled nature of Tiangong-1, experts will not be able to predict a precise point or time of reentry until shortly before it happens.
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Since then, Tiangong-1 has gradually been dropping lower and lower as it rubs up against the wisps of the upper atmosphere. Still, it is impossible to determine where the station, which is now circling the Earth 16 times a day, will come down.
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MI is in the re-entry zone and is preparing for the unlikely event that debris from the space station lands somewhere in the state.
The current estimated trajectory by the European Space Agency has the space station somewhere between 43 degrees north latitude and 43 degrees south - which is a massive area on a global map. That's part of why Tiangong-1 has taken longer to fall than early calculations suggested.
"As it burns through the atmosphere you'll literally see streaks of fire".
The space station, about the size of a 18,000-pound school bus, is spinning out of control and hurling toward Earth. Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is being especially cheery, offering regular updates and letting us know that there's another piece of celestial debris that's headed our way.
"It's important that they not touch it, because hydrazine, which is the fuel for that space station, could be on some of the objects that are there".