Chinese space station Tiangong-1 is hurtling towards earth; know more
01:03, Mar 28, 2018
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China's first space station, Tiangong-1 ("Heavenly Palace"), will come crashing back down to Earth between March 30 and April 2 in an uncontrolled re-entry, according to the latest forecast by the European Space Agency.
Tiangong-1 was put into orbit on September 29, 2011 as a stepping stone towards the launch of China's first full-size space station, which is expected to be completed in the early 2020s. Still, it is impossible to determine where the station, which is now circling the Earth 16 times a day, will come down.
ASI experts calculate that Tiangong-1 will re-enter earth's atmosphere on April 1st at 12:25 pm Italian time, though that estimate could be as much as 48 hours off.
But even if it does fall nearby, Aerospace reports you're one million times more likely to win the Powerball jackpot than be hit by a piece of debris from Tiangong-1.
The fuel tank is likely made of titanium, giving it a chance of making it back to Earth.
Given its status as a prototype, Tiangong-1 just isn't that big for a spacecraft, let alone a space station. The school bus-sized, almost 10-ton module has since outlived its usefulness, having since been replaced by China's larger Tiangong-2 space station in 2016.
The satellite flies over Italy between three and four times a day for around three minutes at a time, Paolo Volpini of the Italian Amateur Astronomers Union (UAI) told Ansa.
Tiangong-1 was visited by taikonauts - Chinese astronauts - twice over the course of its life.
Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist from Harvard University, recorded the speed of Tiangong-1 at about 6km a week, faster than its recorded speed at 1.5km in October.
In case you're concerned about debris, the Virtual Telescope Project reminds us that the possibility of being struck by a chunk of the space station is extremely low.
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