An Out-Of-Control Space Station Will Crash Into Earth In The Next Few Weeks, So Plan Accordingly

by 8 months ago
Tiangong-1 Space Station Crash Earth

A Long March 2F rocket carrying the country's first space laboratory module Tiangong-1 lifts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on September 29, 2011. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)


Here’s some awesome news for you. Scientists are warning those of us who live on planet Earth that China’s Tiangong-1 space station has gone out-of-control and is expected to crash into our planet at some point in the next few weeks. Bonus?! It’s likely to hit somewhere in the northern U.S. states! Those wacky scientists… they’re always full of such good news, aren’t they?

As you can see from the photos above and below, back in September of 2011, China launched its Tiangong-1 space station prototype into the atmosphere. The intention of the Tiangong-1 space station was to serve as a manned lab as well as an experiment/demonstration for the larger, multiple-module Tiangong station.

Unfortunately, after just four years in space, China revealed that they had lost control of the space station, meaning that they had no way of bringing the Tiangong-1 back with a controlled re-entry. Since then the space station has been inching closer and closer to Earth and is expected to finally impact the planet pretty much anytime now. Cool, huh?

Chinas Tiangong-1 Space Station Crash Earth

A Long March 2F rocket carries the unmanned space module "Tiangong-1" in preparations at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on September 20, 2011. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)


The Aerospace Corporation has been monitoring the Tiangong-1 and has put together a very handy online cheat sheet to answer pretty much any question people might have about this situation. It contains several fascinating charts and graphs and even an FAQ section!

A color-coded map of the Earth also shows that the debris will most likely re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere in the northern U.S. states, northern China, portions of South America, the Middle East, Italy and Spain, the southern part of Africa, New Zealand, and/or Tasmania in Australia. So that should be fun.

On the plus side, The Aerospace Corporation says it’s unlikely any of us will be hit by debris.

When considering the worst-case location (yellow regions of the map) the probability that a specific person (i.e., you) will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot. In the history of spaceflight, no known person has ever been harmed by reentering space debris. Only one person has ever been recorded as being hit by a piece of space debris and, fortunately, she was not injured.

Speaking to Newsweek, Timothy Horbury, professor of physics at Imperial College London, also said we having nothing to fear.

“No one has ever been hurt by a piece of debris landing from space. The earth is very large so the likelihood someone will get hurt is very low. In 1979, bits of Skylab, America’s first space station, re-entered and landed in Australia. Nobody was hurt,” he said.

That being said, if some of the debris does manage to embed itself in your backyard, The Aerospace Corporation says you should probably not handle it.

Potentially, there may be a highly toxic and corrosive substance called hydrazine on board the spacecraft that could survive reentry. For your safety, do not touch any debris you may find on the ground nor inhale vapors it may emit.

Also you should contact CORDS at http://www.aerospace.org/cords/contacting-cords/ if happen to spot the space station’s reentry.

The Aerospace Corporation predict the 8.5-ton space station will collide into earth sometime around April 3 with a margin of error of plus/minus a week, while the European Space Agency thinks it will occur between March 29 and April 9.

Mark your calendars.


TAGSChinaSpacespace stationstiangong 1

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