China's space station set for re-entry, hurling towards Earth


An out-of-control Chinese space laboratory, Tiangong-1 that will plunge back to Earth in the coming days is unlikely to cause any damage, Chinese authorities say, but will offer instead a "splendid" show akin to a meteor shower.

It all depends on when the space station re-enters Earth's atmosphere, and this can not be accurately predicted yet.

Experts have downplayed any concerns about the Tiangong-1 causing any damage when it hurtles back to Earth, with the ESA noting that almost 6,000 uncontrolled re-entries of large objects have occurred over the past 60 years without harming anyone.

Tiangong-1 is expected to reenter the atmosphere sometime on Sunday, according to Aerospace Corporation.

You are also more likely to be struck by lightning (1 in 1,083,000, according to the National Weather Service), getting bitten by a shark (one in 3.7 million, according to the National Aquarium in Baltimore), or the Cleveland Browns winning the 2019 Super Bowl (very low, according to oddsmakers) than having a piece of it hit you.

South Korea is scheduled to issue a warning over the reentry of China's space station, as the debris could possibly hit South Korea, although the possibility is very slim, Seoul's ICT ministry said Friday.

So what happened and why has China lost control of the craft?

It's more likely than anything else that most debris will fall into the ocean, which covers 71% of Earth's surface.

China's space lab to fall back to Earth by weekend: Officials

The station, whose name translates as "Heavenly Palace", played host to two crewed missions that included China's first female astronauts and served as a test platform for perfecting docking procedures and other operations. China stopped receiving data from the station in 2016, which means it could be flying blind.

The last space outpost to drop was Russia's 135-ton Mir station in 2001, which made a controlled landing with most parts breaking up in the atmosphere.

'If you plot this path on a map of the Earth, it produces a sine wave pattern, with the slower curve of the wave in northern and southern latitudes and the faster straighter sections running from east to west. Lottie Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was uninjured in 1996 when a small piece of debris from a rocket fuel tank fell on her shoulder while she was out for a walk.

Connecticut, you may want to keep an eye on the sky.

Masi said pointing and tracking fast-moving objects in Earth's orbit such as Tiangong-1 is something that few observatories can do.

It may be possible to see the space station reentering the atmosphere, depending on your location, the time of day, and visibility. Head over to, which tracks the positioning of Tiangong 1 in real time.

While scientists don't the exact time or place, they do know that the space station will crash between 43 degrees north latitude and 43 degrees south latitude, which covers about two-thirds of the earth and 80 percent of the United States.

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