Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Ask the Aerospace Experts: Countdown to Tiangong-1 Reentry

Ask the Aerospace Experts: Countdown to Tiangong-1 Reentry Several US states in potential path of falling Chinese space station
Doris Mccormick | 27 March, 2018, 03:29

And while experts have assured that the bus-sized space station is likely to burn up upon its re-entry, there are concerns that surviving debris could crash into Earth at any location sitting 43 degrees on either side of the equator, which includes parts of the US, southern Europe, the Balkans, Argentina and New Zealand, Sky News reported.

In a statement delivered to the United Nations back in May of 2017, China's Permanent Mission to the UN said that the spacecraft's orbit is "decaying at a daily rate of approximately 160 metres" and that its reentry into Earth's atmosphere "is expected between October 2017 and April 2018". Now that day is almost upon us, and the world is waiting to see where it might land.

Tiangong-1was launched in September 2011.

The Tiangong-One, or the "Heavenly Palace", is a 34-foot-long structure that weighs 9.4 tons.

The Aerospace Corporation invites you to a media event in our Crystal City, Va., office in advance of the impending reentry of China's first space station, now projected to make a fiery descent into Earth's atmosphere in early April. In July 1979, for example, NASA's 85-ton Skylab space station burned up over the Indian Ocean and Western Australia.

The space lab will fall back to Earth on its own, pulled down by the atmospheric drag.

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Scientists have said it is hard to predict where the space station will fall exactly to Earth.

The Aerospace Corporation estimates that Tiangong-1 will re-enter somewhere between the latitudes of 43° north and south, which is a range similar to other space junk that has fallen in recent years, including Germany's ROSAT satellite and the European Space Agency's GOCE satellite in 2013. In 2016, China lost control of the station, making it impossible to pinpoint the exact date of re-entry or location of landing until it dropped lower in its orbit.

It is most likely for debris from the spacecraft to fall within the extreme edges of the 43 degree bands, so the USA, southern Europe and the Balkans are the most densely populated areas which could be hit.

"While a wide area could be affected, it is important to point out that large part of the Earth is covered by water or is inhabited".

A person is one million times more likely to win the Powerball jackpot than to be hit by debris from the satellite, according to the Aerospace Corporation.

"In the history of spaceflight, no casualties due to falling space debris has ever been confirmed".

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