Chinese space lab Tiangong-1 weighing 8.5-tonne is expected to crash into Earth in a matter of few weeks. What is making the space station’s crash worse is the fact that scientists have not been able to predict where the space station will crash land on Earth.
Tiangong-1 was launched in 2011 and is the country’s first ever crewed space station. The space lab was supposed to end operation in 2013, but the space agency extended its lifespan for a few more years. This was the period when it lost control. China’s CNSA space agency had confirmed in 2016 that they have lost complete control of Tiangong-1, which would likely be crash-landing on Earth anytime soon. This means the space agency won’t be able to perform a controlled re-entry.
As per the US-funded Aerospace Corporation, which is tracking the movement of the out-of-controlled space lab, Tiangong-1 is estimated to re-enter the atmosphere sometime during the first week of April. The European Space Agency claims that the module will reach the Earth between March 24 and April 19, reported the Guardian.
Space experts believe that more than 40 percent of Tiangong-1 will get burned up as it enters the atmosphere. But the remaining 60 per cent will reach the earth’s surface intact in the form of space debris weighing more than 3,200 kilograms.
It is expected that if the space debris reaches the earth in big parts, it will result in large casualties in the areas where it hits.
“If this should happen, any surviving debris would fall within a region that is a few hundred kilometers in size,” read a statement issued by Aerospace Corporation.
Furthermore, Aerospace Corporation is also concerned about the highly corrosive toxic chemical, hydrazine that could be on board the falling space station. It is believed that the space lab will fall somewhere between 43° north and 43° south latitudes which make regions of Northern China, Middle Eastern countries, New Zealand, Italy, Tasmania, Spain, the northern states of the US and parts of South America and southern Africa.