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Tiangong-1 space station to crash within weeks


Posted on Wednesday, 7 March, 2018 | Comment icon 167 comments

The station will re-enter the atmosphere within the next two months. Image Credit: CMSE
The out-of-control station is due to re-enter Earth's atmosphere between March 24th and April 19th.
Originally launched back in 2011, China's prototype space station Tiangong-1 or 'Heavenly Place' was used as both a manned laboratory and as a test platform to demonstrate orbital docking capabilities.

A few months after it ceased operations in 2016 however, amateur satellite trackers noticed that it seemed to be out of control, something that was later officially confirmed by China's space agency.

As things stand, the station is set to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere within the next two months, bringing with it the risk (albeit a small one) of debris falling on a populated area.

According to reports, the region in which it could fall includes parts of northern China, central Europe, the northern US, New Zealand, South Africa and parts of South America.

The chances of anyone actually being injured by the debris however are infinitesimally small.

"When considering the worst-case location.. the probability that a specific person (ie, you) will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot," said research organization Aerospace.

"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."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (167)

Tags: Tiangong-1

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #158 Posted by Astra. on 2 April, 2018, 1:52
It would be good if some boat out there caught it on video...not likely, but you never know. 
Comment icon #159 Posted by susieice on 2 April, 2018, 2:20
They seem to think it disintegrated on re-entry. They only gave it a 10% chance of survival. Hope there's a video also! From link below: There was only about a 10 per cent chance the spacecraft would survive being burned up on re-entry. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-02/chinese-space-station-crashes-into-earth/9605260?smid=Page: ABC News-Facebook_Organic&WT.tsrc=Facebook_Organic&sf185996359=1
Comment icon #160 Posted by Merc14 on 2 April, 2018, 3:10
Damn, I wanted to watch.  Thanks all, especially Bison, for keeping us informed and it was fun to watch the physics work wasn't it? 
Comment icon #161 Posted by susieice on 2 April, 2018, 3:22
I read a CBS report that says objects re-entering occur every few months. The worse for the US was the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia, which rained debris over a wide swath of the southern US. No one on the ground was hurt. I remember when that happened. I also didn't know that Perth, Australia fined the US $400 for littering when Skylab came down. That's funny. Wouldn't have been if someone had been hurt though.
Comment icon #162 Posted by Astra. on 2 April, 2018, 4:08
Yes, not sure if the $400 fine was only said in tongue-in-cheek at the time. But another article that I read said that it was paid by a radio station in the US who did a fund raiser...got the money.. and paid it back 30 years later lol... Anyway, here is another article that shows the museum in the little town of Esperance that displays some of the bigger bits from the space station. All in all, it makes some good and interesting history.   https://www.australiantraveller.com/wa/outback-wa/esperance/025-see-where-skylab-crashed-to-earth/
Comment icon #163 Posted by seanjo on 2 April, 2018, 10:28
Glad no one was hurt.  
Comment icon #164 Posted by Myles on 3 April, 2018, 11:22
Brings up an interesting point.     Is the country who launched the craft liable for property damage and loss of life?   I assume so.   So I wonder in what way.   Who decides punishment or punitive damages?
Comment icon #165 Posted by Derek Willis on 3 April, 2018, 14:57
"Space Law" is founded on the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. There is actually quite a debate going on over whether the treaty needs seriously updating. Currently, a nation issues an agency or a company with a "launch licence". The nation in question is then responsible for any liabilities. They then seek to recover the costs from the company or agency. Back in 1967 it was only agencies that launched satellites (and only three of them: America, the Soviet Union, and France). Now the situation is much more complicated. The nations that issue the licences insist the agencies or companies take out i... [More]
Comment icon #166 Posted by bison on 3 April, 2018, 15:52
In 1978, the Soviet naval reconnaissance satellite, Kosmos 954, became unstable in its orbit and crashed to Earth, scattering debris across northern Canada. Both the Soviet Union and Canada were signatories to the Space Law Convention.  A complication was that the satellite was powered by a uranium nuclear reactor. Some of the debris was dangerously radioactive. A large clean-up project ensued.  Canada billed the Soviet Union 6 million Canadian dollars. The two nations negotiated between themselves and finally agreed to compensation amounting to half that figure. 
Comment icon #167 Posted by Astra. on 4 April, 2018, 0:16
Yep, apart from the large meteorite that impacted on the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia that caused damage and injury. It's been recorded that there have only been two individuals in history (that they know of) who were actually struck by space debris. One woman was lightly struck by a piece of the Delta 11 rocket in 1997, and the other woman was struck in 1954 by a piece of meteorite which left a very nasty bruise. I guess it's fortunate that these type of incidences are generally rare.  https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/02/130220-russia-meteorite-ann-hodges-science-space-hit/ http... [More]


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