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Maltese scientists tracking China's space station expected to crash over Easter weekend

Maltese scientists tracking China's space station expected to crash over Easter weekend

The spacecraft's functions "have been disabled", China's Xinhua news service reported. In 2016, China announced it had lost contact with Tiangong-1 and could therefore no longer control its direction, making predicting where it will end up hard.

Owing to the Chinese station's mass and construction materials, there is a distinct possibility that some portions of Tiangong-1 will survive the fiery journey through Earth's atmosphere and reach the surface, experts say. That means there is a higher probability of debris falling somewhere along a north-central stretch of the US between California and NY. The controlled re-entry of a spacecraft or defunct satellite is planned to happen within a specific window of time, so that it splashes down in the ocean, guaranteeing that it won't fall on a populated area.

Tiangong-1, which ironically translates to "Heavenly Palace 1", is expected to land between March 29th and April 4th.

The latest estimate for re-entry is between 30 March and 2 April.




Maltese scientists have joined a team of global space experts to track China's abandoned space station, which is expected to make a fiery re-entry and crash back to Earth over Easter weekend. We don't know exactly when or exactly where it will reenter, but space fans will have a chance to watch one of its last passages across the sky live via telescope. Several large pieces of debris from it crashed into the Australian town of Esperance in 1979.

Tiangong-1 was created to stay in space for just two years and the Shenzhou-10 visit marked the end of the space lab's operational life. The 77-tonne U.S. space station Skylab also didn't injure anybody and only parts of it were later gathered. Although most of the lab, which weighs 8.5 metric tons, is expected to burn up as it re-enters the earth's atmosphere, some small fragments could survive. The agency said Monday (March 26) that the lab could fall between March 31 to April 4 (link in Chinese).

China's 8.5-ton space station will come crashing down to Earth from Saturday onwards, the country's space authorities said, although they cannot confirm where it is likely to hit. In its lifetime it was involved in six rendezvous and docking missions with manned Shenzhou spacecraft, and made "significant contributions to the development of China's manned space mission" space authorities said.


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