Chinese Space Station Will Crash Into Earth In March And They Have No Idea Where It Will Hit

by 3 years ago
Earth

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China launched the country’s first manned space station in 2011, but the spacecraft has run its course and now it will return to Earth. The 9.4-ton Tiangong-1 module will come crashing into Earth in March. There are two rather worrisome aspects to Tiangong-1’s final run — China has no control over the doomed space station and they don’t know where on Earth it will plummet.

The Tiangong-1 or “Heavenly Palace” was not a long-term base like the International Space Station, but rather a test run. The last time that Chinese astronauts visited Tiangong-1 was in 2013 and when the crew left they set the station to sleep mode. China’s space agency wanted to monitor Tiangong-1’s systems to see how they held up over time. By 2016, China had lost contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016.

The short-lived experiment will fall out of orbit in March most likely, but the earliest reentry would be at the end of February. China doesn’t know the exact date or time that the crash landing will happen. This is an extremely scary proposition, but there are some reasons why we shouldn’t worry too much and a few that are alarming. Once Tiangong-1 enters the atmosphere, most of the 40-foot-long spacecraft will disintegrate into tiny pieces during reentry. Except for the 220-pound engines which are probably too dense to break apart. Additionally, the space lab is equipped with a supply of Hydrazine propellant, which is highly toxic.

The odds of debris from the space station actually hitting your house are extremely slim. Since 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water, that lowers the odds of you getting smacked in the head with a piece of the space station. China believes the space lab will hit the surface of the Earth between 43 degrees North and 43 degrees South latitudes. The United States is in the potential impact zone, but it’s more likely the debris will land in the ocean. The odds of debris from the spacecraft hitting a human are estimated to be less than one in 1 trillion. So you’re saying there’s a chance? China hopes to launch a permanent 20-ton space station around 2022.

[ExtremeTech]


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