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China's Tiangong-1 spacecraft is expected to crash on Earth this weekend

This is not an April Fool's Day prank

  • Published: March 28, 2018 10:03 AM IST
space station satellite main

China’s Tiangong-1 space station is expected to crash on the Earth this coming weekend. The space station has been declared to be out of control and is about to collide with Earth’s atmosphere later this week.

The space station is predicted to enter the burn phase and crash back on Earth’s surface in the form of chunks or space debris. The European Space Agency‘s latest reentry forecast estimates Tiangong-1 to crash down sometime between Saturday morning i.e. March 31 and early Monday morning in UTC time. The forecast is being updated every 1 or 2 days and the window of 48 hours is the shortest predicted so far.

The ESA also notes that the reentry will take place anywhere between 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south of the equator but prediction of a precise location at any time will not be possible. Tiangong-1 was launched in 2011 and is also known as “Heavenly Palace 1” and it could crash on Earth around April Fools’ Day.

The 18,740 pound (or 8,500 kilogram) spacecraft was caught in flames by the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques and Earth’s gravity is continuing to pull it close to the surface. At reentry, the space station could land anywhere between the northern area of the United States to Tasmania. There is a possibility that the pieces of Tiangong-1 will fall in the ocean or land in the middle of nowhere.

In the past, only one person has ever reported being hit by a falling space debris. If spotted, those on earth should stay away from the debris of Tiangong-1 and call authorities since it might contain toxic elements. The Virtual Telescope Project plans to live stream the reentry of the space station and it will definitely be a sight to behold as it crosses our sky in the form of fireball.

  • Published Date: March 28, 2018 10:03 AM IST