China's giant space station is about to come crashing back down to Earth, but experts say it does not pose a risk to anyone.
We are just days away from China’s prototype space station, Tiangong-1, crashing back down to Earth, and authorities are assuring everyone that there is no risk to humans. Experts belive that Tiangong-1 will reenter the atmosphere sometime between March 30 and April 3, and that it will mostly burn up on descent.
Tiangong-1, which is translated to “Heavenly Palace-1,” was launched back in September 2011 and spent the next few years in orbit about 217 miles from the surface of the Earth, which is a bit closer than the International Space Station. It weights 9.4 tons and is 34 by 11 feet.
China put it into sleep mode after a couple of years and planned to bring it back down to Earth in controlled fashion, but something went wrong and it is now in an uncontrolled descent. Some of its pieces will survive re-entry, although they most likely will end up int he ocean. The odds of being hit by a piece of the space junk is 1 in 1 trillion.
“Tiangong-1 is China’s first prototype space station, serving as both a manned laboratory and an experimental testbed to demonstrate orbital rendezvous and docking capabilities,” reads a Wikipedia excerpt. “Launched unmanned aboard a Long March 2F/G rocket on 29 September 2011, it is the first operational component of the Tiangong program, which aims to place a larger, modular station into orbit by 2023. Tiangong-1 was initially projected to be deorbited in 2013, to be replaced over the following decade by the larger Tiangong-2 and Tiangong-3 modules, but as of November 2017 it was still aloft, though in a decaying orbit.”