New Jersey Possibly In Path Of Chinese Space Station Hurling Toward Earth
The derelict spacecraft has been slowly falling out of its original orbit for several years.
Tiangong-1, colloquially known as "Heavenly Palace", was launched as China's first prototype space station serving as both a manned space laboratory and an experimental vehicle to demonstrate orbital docking capabilities.
However, it added that some craft parts could survive the atmospheric re-entry and reach the Earth's surface. "At no time will a precise time/location prediction from ESA be possible", explained reentry experts at the European Space Agency.
"Based on Tiangong-1's inclination, however, we can confidently say that this object will reenter somewhere between 43deg North and 43deg South latitudes".
Russia, Canada and northern Europe are all reported to be out of range.
Tiangong is certainly on the large size for uncontrolled re-entry objects but it is far from being the biggest, historically.
As little risk as there may be of debris hitting someone, it's good practice not to take that risk if you don't have to, and good manners not to dispose of your space junk over someone else's country. 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.
But debris from Tiangong-1 is extremely unlikely to hit people.
If the space station does de-orbit over Australian skies, get ready for a hell of a lightshow. Its last crew departed in 2013 and contact with it was cut in 2016. Since then, the station has been slowly orbiting closer and closer to Earth.
It was created to be a manned lab, has two modules, including sleeping space for two astronauts, according to the Aerospace Corporation.
China's National Space Agency isn't offering moment-by-moment updates on its satellite, but you can find occasional notifications. "It was occupied by two separate crews of three astronauts, or taikonauts, each - a mission in June 2012 included China's first female astronaut, Liu Yang". The spacecraft was launched into space in September 2011, and has been the site of a two-man mission and a three-man mission. The completed 60-ton station is set to come into full service in 2022 and operate for at least a decade.
The "space lab" was part of China's planned research as it works toward a permanently staffed space station.
Such an increase in density would have pulled the spacecraft down sooner, it said, adding that the new re-entry window is still uncertain and "highly variable".
China also plans to put a man on the moon and send a rover to Mars.
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