Launched in 2011, Tiangong-1 was the Chinese space station which was seen as a space research superpower capability of the Asian peninsula, until in 2016, the Chinese CNSA space agency declared that they have lost control of the space lab. And now, the out-of-control space station is approaching towards earth, to crash-land within few weeks – but there is little to worry about.
China had proudly launched its first space station Tiangong-1 in 2011, displaying its power and capabilities in space research sector on global platform. However, in 2016, the CNSA declared that they have lost control of Tiangong space station and it will, sooner or later, approach towards our home planet. In the latest update, a US-funded Aerospace Corporation has estimated that Tiagong-1 will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in the first week of April this year – to be specific, approximately anywhere between March 24 and April 19. So the Chinese spacecraft is out of control since about two years, wandering in space and is now approaching towards Earth – no control – and will possibly crash somewhere – don’t know where exactly.
As per the Aerospace Corporation’s estimation, the 8.5 tonne module of Tiangong-1 will enter the atmosphere and there is a “chance that a small amount of debris from the module will survive the re-entry into atmosphere and will hit the surface”. If that happens, the debris can spread in few-hundred kilometre of diameter – possibly even in populated areas. And, the space station could also be carrying toxic and corrosive fuel called hydrazine – and currently, we have no idea where the crash will occur, or even when exactly. Perhaps, there is some idea about where the crash can occur as a statement from the space agency said that the re-entry could occur somewhere between 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south latitudes.
Which means, the chances of crash are higher in northern China, the Middle East, central Italy, northern Spain and the northern states of the U.S., New Zealand, Tasmania, parts of South America and southern Africa. That is like half of the globe! But, this is not the first time we humans are facing an uncontrolled spaceship crash – it has happened before, and well, there is nothing much anyone can do about it. Back in 1979, a 77-tonne NASA spacecraft named Skylab had crash-landed and huge debris had spread over Perth in Australia. Then, in 1991, 20-tonne Russian Salyut-7 docked with 20-tonne Cosmos 1686 which had scattered all over town of Capitan Bermudez in Argentina. So, it is not the first time and the agencies say that there are very little chances of Tiangong debris hurting those living on Earth (but we never know), so relax.