China's Tiangong-1 Space Station Set to Crash to Earth Sunday

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In this September 29, 2011, file photo, a Long March-2FT1 carrier rocket loaded with China's Tiangong-1 space station blasts off from the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province. In September 2016, China launched its second space lab, Tiangong-2.

The station's re-entry had stoked fear for months, however, as scientists remained unsure when the craft might land back on Earth.

The Paris-based agency, which is managing the worldwide campaign to follow the laboratory's fall, said on Saturday that the time and place of its re-entry continues to be a "highly variable" prediction affected by the changing solar activity, reports Efe news.

The chances of Tiangong-1's re-entry are slightly higher in New Zealand, Tasmania, the northern states of the U.S., northern China, the Middle East, central Italy, northern Spain, and parts of South America and southern Africa.

The re-entry latitude of the Tiangong-1 is expected to be within 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south of the equator, a huge swath of the earth which stretches from NY to Cape Town.


Scorching fragments from the 7-year-old space lab are projected to strike a massive swath of the world - except for Canada, Russia and the northern reaches of Europe.

The ESA said the lab will make an "uncontrolled re-entry" as ground teams are no longer able to fire its engines or thrusters for orbital adjustments. The chances of any one person being hit by debris are considered less than one in a trillion.

The space station was set to have a controlled re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, but the lab stopped working in March 2016. And the Chinese government informed about the defunct to the United Nations in May.

Most famously, America's 77-ton Skylab crashed through the atmosphere in 1979, spreading pieces of wreckage near the southwestern Australia city of Perth, which fined the US $400 for littering. The latter mission included China's first female astronaut, Liu Yang.

"It's that interaction with the outermost part of the atmosphere of the Earth that is going to trigger it to finally come down", said Perlman.


The China Manned Space Engineering Office places the date of reentry a little later, between April 1 and April 2.

The agency, however, did not provide an exact arrival time or likely landing site for abandoned eight-tonne Tiangong, a Chinese name for Heavenly Palace. Since then it has been orbiting gradually closer and closer to Earth on its own while being monitored.

China has predicted most of its debris will fall in the ocean as it breaks up on descent.

It also plans to send a manned mission to the moon in the future.


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