Chinese space station will re-enter the Earth between March 19 and April 14, according to the latest update by the European Space Agency.
The debris from Tiangong-1 will most likely burn when it enters the atmosphere. However, experts don’t want to take chances on the off chance that the components strike the ground.
The agency’s latest forecast estimates that it will take about a month and a half before the rogue satellite drops from space. Of course, this is just a forecast, and it is subject to changes.
The laboratory has been floating in space for two years. The Chinese space agency lost control of the space station on March 16, 2016. There seems to have been battery issues on the space station. By September 2016, China released an official statement revealing that Tiangong-1 is earth-bound. However, they did not disclose if they still had the space station under control.
The possible crash site for the remains of the rogue space laboratory will be between 43 degrees North and 43 degrees South latitude. With this estimate, the debris might land in the northern part of United States. Possible landing sites include Japan, China, North Korea, Italy, Turkey, and Spain. It’s also possible for New Zealand, Southern Australia, Argentina, and Chile to be the landing site.
On December 8, 2017, China reached out the United Nations and revealed the status of the space station. According to Chinese authorities, they expect that the re-entry will happen between first 10 days of February and the last 10 days of March.
Tiangong-1, the first space station launched by China, is 10.5 meters long with a 3.35-meter diameter. During the launch, the space station weighed 8.5 tons. As of the report date, the said space station maintained its structural integrity.
Chinese authorities assured the UN that they already have a group who will monitor the re-entry of the debris from Tiangong-1.
As indicated in the report, Tiangong-1 uses methylhydrazine and dinitrogen tetroxide as the engine fuel. There will still be remaining amounts, but it will be destroyed upon the station’s re-entry. The Chinese space station may be due to return sometime soon, but experts do not expect any damage to occur even if some of the debris remains upon re-entry.