China’s Space Station To Plunge To Earth Sunday In Latest Data: 1 Person In History Ever Hit By Space Debris

With Tiangong 1 hurling toward Earth this weekend, you might want to know there's only one documented case of a piece of space debris actually hitting a person and that was in the U.S. back in 1997.

Two men pointing up at sky
Helder Almeida / Shutterstock

With Tiangong 1 hurling toward Earth this weekend, you might want to know there's only one documented case of a piece of space debris actually hitting a person and that was in the U.S. back in 1997.

The latest data offering a time-frame for the Tiangong-1’s re-entry forecast into Earth’s atmosphere has just been released from the European Space Agency and Aerospace Corp. As of 11 a.m. on Saturday morning, March 31, the latest forecast has the Chinese space station tumbling into through the Earth’s atmosphere sometime between Sunday evening and early Monday morning, according to Space.com.

The Europen Space Agency calculates a target time for the space station to rain down on Earth of 7:25 p.m. EDT on Sunday. The Aerospace Corp. puts the re-entry a bit sooner and expects the space station to crash down at 4:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

Both time estimates are offered with a “give or take 8-hours” so the timeline window stretches from Sunday into Monday. This change of time also changes the locations, but on Saturday morning, they were working on that updated calculation. ESA International reports the re-entry location for this space station is somewhere within 43ºN and 43ºS. This is a huge area and they are hoping to pinpoint this down to a closer range as the weekend progresses. To view the map click here.

As of yesterday, Tiangong-1’s re-entry was expected to put it over the Pacific Ocean. If that were the case, it would offer quite a show for any boaters in the area, claimed Aerospace Corp’s Ted Muelhaupt. That has now changed, as the timeline has changed.

According to Space.com the exact location of the space station re-entry is not known today, but the uncertainty of the time and place of the re-entry has prompted some emergency preparation. One of those preparations was the activation of the state emergency operations center in Michigan to monitor the re-entry of China’s Tiangong-1 Space Station, according to an earlier article from the Inquisitr.

Space Junk Around Earth
  Johan Swanepoel / Shutterstock

The bus-size space station is expected to break up as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, but the size of the pieces that will remain intact and plummet to the Earth is not known. Some of the U.S. states are in the potential path of the space station’s re-entry point, which is a path that spans from the East Coast to the West Coast.

According to the Detroit News, the space station’s possible re-entry point includes a path in the U.S. as it makes its way around the Earth. That path goes from Northern California to Pennsylvania and all points in between, which potentially leaves quite a few folks in this nation looking toward the sky on Sunday.

Any debris that falls from this space station is potentially dangerous and authorities are warning folks to stay clear of fallen debris. Experts claim that the chance of anyone getting hit with debris from this Space Station is a long shot. With that said, there was one documented case in the world where someone was hit by falling space debris. That happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma, back in 1997.

That person was in her hometown in the U.S. when she was hit back in 1997, which is described in a previous Inquisitr article from earlier this month. Her name is Lottie Williams and she was walking with friends in a park when she felt as if someone tapped her on the shoulder. Her friends were not close enough to her be the culprit but when she turned around no one was there.

Space Debris plunges into water
  Alexyz3d / Shutterstock

About 30 minutes prior to this, Lottie and her friends saw a “spectacular fireball” streak through the sky and they were in awe of the “beautiful” sight. Then a half-hour later she felt that tap and it scared her, so she started to run. When she turned around and saw that no one was there, Lottie was perplexed.

At the same time, they heard something fall to the ground and when they looked on the ground, they found a piece of something that had the weight of an “empty soda can” to it. It looked like fabric, but it made the sound of metal if you tapped it.

After she took the piece to the local astronomy club to see if they knew what it was, it was sent to several different places to be analyzed. The final analysis came out of the University of Tulsa. This is where a professor deemed the object that had hit Lottie — a piece space junk.

It was confirmed by the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Study or CORD. Lottie was hit with a piece of falling debris from space. What hit Lottie was a piece of blackened, woven material that was part of the fuel tank in a Delta II rocket. That rocket had been launched to carry a U.S. Air Force satellite into space back in 1996.

So where will the Chinese space station debris come down? Check back for updates.