Just in time for Easter weekend, an out-of-control Chinese space station is reportedly going to crash back down to Earth within days.
Sometime between March 30 and April 2, debris from the Tiangong-1 station (Tiangong translates to “Heavenly Place”) is predicted to crash down across the northern hemisphere.
According to the U.K. Mirror, the “out-of-control” station has been on a “collision course” with Earth since 2016, when China lost control of it.
As seen in the video below, the space station was launched in 2011.
Though the European Space Agency in Darmstadt, Germany admitted that the expected splashdown dates were “highly variable,” it said it would offer revised forecasts leading up to the event.
“At no time will a precise time/location prediction from (the European Space Agency) be possible,” the agency explained in a statement.
“This forecast was updated approximately weekly through to mid-March, and is now being updated every 1~2 days,” the statement said.
Though the majority of the 8.5-ton craft will disintegrate as it enters Earth’s atmosphere, it’s possible that fragments of debris weighing as much as 100 kg might make it through the atmosphere.
The threat of debris is worrying to experts, as the space station itself contains hydrazine, a type of rocket fuel that can cause both liver and nerve damage in the long run to those who come into contact with it.
“There is a chance that a small amount of Tiangong-1 debris may survive reentry and impact the ground,” read a statement from Aerospace, the technical and scientific research development company that assists NASA.
“Should this happen, any surviving debris would fall within a region that is a few hundred kilometers in size and centered along a point on the Earth that the station passes over,” Aerospace added.
Experts have also warned that the debris may scatter throughout countries such as Spain, Turkey, India, Italy and even portions of America, though they added that the U.K. is not expected to get hit.
“Owing to the geometry of the station’s orbit, we can already exclude the possibility that any fragments will fall over any spot further north than 43ºN or further south than 43ºS,” Holger Krag, head of the ESA’s Space Debris Office, told Newsweek.
“This means that re-entry may take place over any spot on Earth between these latitudes,” he added. “Which includes several European countries, for example.”
Even before the first one has come crashing down, China already has its newest Tiangong-2 station orbiting the planet.
More sections are reportedly set to be added to Tiangong-2 in an attempt to form a structure similar to that of the International Space Station.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.