China's Tiangong-1 space lab set to fall to Earth

Tiangong-1 reentry updates | Rocket Science - ESA's blogs

Tiangong-1 reentry updates | Rocket Science - ESA's blogs

Graphic showing the scale of China's Tiangong-1 space station, which is expected to make an uncontrolled fall through Earth's atmosphere around April 1, 2018.

The good news is that it's very unlikely that anyone will actually get hit by the spacecraft, which is expected to break up into debris upon re-entry.

"There is no need for people to worry about its re-entry into the atmosphere", an article by the China Manned Space Engineering Office published on state media said.

The Paris-based agency, which is managing the worldwide campaign to follow the laboratory's fall, said on Saturday that the time and place of its re-entry continues to be a "highly variable" prediction affected by the changing solar activity, reports Efe news.

Leroy Chiao, a former United States astronaut who flew on four space missions, told CNN he would be "surprised if any major pieces survived the re-entry, as the Tiangong-1 was not that big of a spacecraft as they go, and it did not have a heat shield".

As of Sunday, Tiangong-1 is predicted to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and crash after 01.25 CET on Monday morning.

The Tiangong-1 space craft is expected to tear across the sky - similar to that of a meteor shower - once it plummets into the Earth's atmosphere.

Zhu Zongpeng, the nation's chief space laboratory designer, insisted the process is in control - but hasn't given any details on what China is doing.

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Below are some questions and answers about the station, its re-entry and the past and future of China's ambitious space program. In September 2016, the Tiangong-2 space lab was successfully launched and put into orbit.

Scientists have emphasized the danger of being hit by falling debris is tiny, as low as one in 1 trillion, as the structure is likely to burn up in the atmosphere during reentry.

Most famously, America's 77-ton Skylab crashed through the atmosphere in 1979, spreading pieces of wreckage near the southwestern Australia city of Perth, which fined the USA $400 for littering.

An abandoned Chinese space station is falling to Earth and it could hit as early as this weekend. The latter mission included China's first female astronaut, Liu Yang.

Since then, it has orbited gradually closer and closer to Earth on its own while being monitored.

Since China conducted its first crewed mission in 2003 - becoming only the third country after Russian Federation and the U.S.to do so - it has taken on increasingly ambitious projects, including staging a spacewalk and landing its Jade Rabbit rover on the moon.

China, meanwhile, is hedging with a particularly wide prediction window.

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