Published: Sun, April 01, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Ill-fated Chinese space station will pass over Northeast Ohio

Ill-fated Chinese space station will pass over Northeast Ohio

The European Space Agency is keeping tabs on the station as well, saying that the current reentry window is somewhere between Saturday night and late Sunday evening, with current thinking that it will lean more towards Apr. 1 (not, this is not an April Fool's Joke). Want to watch the satellite plunge to earth in real time? Chinese officials announced in March 2016 they lost control of the space station, but amateur satellite trackers claim the station has been orbiting uncontrolled since at least June 2016, according to the agency.

South Korea is scheduled to issue a warning over the reentry of China's space station, as the debris could possibly hit South Korea, although the possibility is very slim, Seoul's ICT ministry said Friday.

Of course, by now you probably know the re-entry of the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 (Tiangong means heavenly palace in English) is no prank, despite all the uncertainty around the time and place of its crash landing.

Although far smaller than some other satellites (the ISS is 450 tons (408,000 kg) for example) it is still the size of a school bus. The reentry is very hard to forecast and ESA is only able to predict the time with a variability of plus minus 20%.

"They will have a more accurate position just 24 hours, more or less, before it will actually hit the Earth". But the most common prediction is April 1, although speed variability could delay or speed up the process.

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Given that the Earth is around 71 percent water, and given that the majority of the space station is unlikely to survive re-entry into the planet's atmosphere - it's highly unlikely that anything on land will be affected by the falling debris.

The European Space Agency (Esa) is also tracking the space stations gradual descent.

China sent another lab into orbit, the Tiangong-2, in September 2016 and hopes to turn it into a crewed space station by 2022. "It was a kind of container in space where Chinese astronauts were conducting experiments", he said. Though, scientists and engineers still can not pinpoint where and when the 9.4-tonne school bus-size space station will fall. Shortly after that, trackers said it had gone into an uncontrolled orbit. "By comparison, the risk of being hit by lightning is 1 in 1.4 million, and the risk that someone in the USA will be killed in a hurricane is about 1 in six million", the aerospace authority said in a public advisory.

A Chinese spaceflight engineer, however, denied earlier this year that it was out of control.

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