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Space & Astronomy

Tiangong-1 space station to crash over Easter

March 23, 2018 | Comment icon 158 comments

The station is likely to come down in time for Easter. Image Credit: CMSE
China's out-of-control Tiangong-1 space lab is now expected to fall to Earth over the Easter weekend.
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.

Now according to the European Space Agency's Space Debris Office in Darmstadt, Germany, Tiangoing-1 is very likely to fall to Earth at some point between March 30th and April 2nd.
Scientists however were keen to stress that this window is 'highly variable'.

While it isn't clear exactly where the station will come down, the most likely areas include northern China, central Europe, the northern US, New Zealand, South Africa and parts of South America.

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

"In the history of spaceflight no known person has ever been harmed by reentering space debris," said research organization Aerospace. "Only one person has ever been recorded as being hit by a piece of space debris and, fortunately, she was not injured."

Source: | Comments (158)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #149 Posted by Astra. 4 years ago
It perished over the NW of Tahiti according to this.
Comment icon #150 Posted by Astra. 4 years ago
It would be good if some boat out there caught it on video...not likely, but you never know.
Comment icon #151 Posted by susieice 4 years ago
Theyseem 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. ABC News-Facebook_Organic&WT.tsrc=Facebook_Organic&sf185996359=1
Comment icon #152 Posted by Merc14 4 years ago
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 #153 Posted by susieice 4 years ago
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 #154 Posted by Astra. 4 years ago
Yes, not sure if the $400 fine was only said intongue-in-cheek at the time. But another article that I read said that itwas paid by a radio station in the US who did afund the money..and paid it back 30 years later lol... Anyway, here is another article that shows the museum in the littletown of Esperance that displays some of the bigger bits from the space station. All in all, it makes some good and interesting history.
Comment icon #155 Posted by Myles 4 years ago
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 #156 Posted by Derek Willis 4 years ago
"Space Law" is founded onthe 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 #157 Posted by bison 4 years ago
In 1978, the Soviet naval reconnaissance satellite, Kosmos 954, became unstable in its orbit and crashed to Earth, scatteringdebris 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 uraniumnuclear 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 tohalf that figure.
Comment icon #158 Posted by Astra. 4 years ago
Yep, apart from the large meteorite that impacted onthe cityof Chelyabinsk inRussia that caused damage and injury.It'sbeen recorded thatthere have onlybeen two individualsin 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 guessit's fortunate that these type of incidences are generallyrare. http... [More]

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