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28 March 2018, 01:07 | Simon Arnold
Chinese satellite due to crash on Earth around April 1
But the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee calculates the odds of a person being hit by whatever is not burned up during re-entry to be 10 million times less than the chance of a person being hit by lightning.
Tiangong-1, which ironically translates to "Heavenly Palace 1", is expected to land between March 29th and April 4th. The effective radar is presently being made use of by the German Space Situational Awareness Center and also European Space Agency (ESA).
A flaming 8.5-tonne (more than 3,200 kilograms) space station the size of a school bus is hurtling towards Earth and there is every reason to be anxious, but people shouldn't panic.
But, it's also worth noting that Tiangong-1 itself is just a fraction of the size of other objects that have fallen (controlled or uncontrolled) to Earth.
Still quite low. It'll come down in the latitudes of 43 degrees north and south, and that is somewhere between southern France and Hobart.
After the Chinese government told the United Nations they had lost control of the station, back in September of 2016, knowing exactly where the station was in orbit, and how high up in space it was, became very important. There is a variety of variables that could impact the spaceport station influence.
While much of the spacecraft would likely burn up in the atmosphere, ESA experts say portions could survive and reach Earth's surface. The school bus-sized, almost 10-ton module has since outlived its usefulness, having since been replaced by China's larger Tiangong-2 space station in 2016.
Two manned missions to Tiangong-1 were completed. The out-of-control spacecraft is expected to drop any time now, and scientists attempting to forecast its demise have pinned the deorbit date for the end of March or beginning of April. Much if not all of the debris is likely to fall into the sea. The agency, which could still communicate with and direct the space station prior to its re-entry, aimed Skylab to a location approximately 810 miles (1,300 kilometers) south-southeast of Cape Town, South Africa. "According to the calculations and analysis that have been carried out, most of the structural components of Tiangong-1 will be destroyed through burning during the course of its re-entry". One highlight of its life in orbit was in June 2012, when three taikonauts, or Chinese astronauts, entered the space lab, which triggered an outpouring of national pride among the Chinese masses.
As for whether you might catch a glimpse of the station breaking up - which can be quite spectacular - it all depends on a few factors including location, time of day and cloud cover.
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