Chinese space station, Tiangong-1 (meaning “Heavenly Place” in Chinese) is expected to crash into the Earth within the next few months, the Guardian reported.
China’s space agency, China National Space Administration (CNSA) has confirmed, in 2016, that they lost the control of the space station and predicted that it would be crashing into the Earth in late 2017 or early 2018. It has since refined the time frame to “between October 2017 and April 2018” and has also notified the UN.
According to reports, the orbit of the station has been steadily decaying since then and the rate has increased rapidly in recent weeks.
The Tiangong-1, which weighs around 8.5 tonnes, is not expected to entirely burn up in the atmosphere and large pieces as big as ones weighing 100 kg may end up impacting the surface of the planet. But it is impossible to predict exactly when or where the debris will fall at this stage.
The Tiangong-1 was launched aboard a Long March 2F Launch Vehicle. It was supposed to be a long-term mission, and establish a Chinese outpost in orbit. The space station was used for several manned and unmanned missions.
Tiangong-2, China’s second space lab was launched on 15 September 2016, and is currently in operation. China has plans to start building a space station in 2019, and establish a permanent presence in space by 2022.
The Guardian report noted that there have been many uncontrolled re-entries of larger spacecraft and none have ever been reported to have caused injuries to people.