Chinese space lab to fall to Earth within days in 'fiery demise'

Any pieces of Tiangong-1

China's Tiangong-1 space station is predicted to enter Earth's atmosphere sometime during Easter weekend, but the exact location of its re-entry remains a mystery.

The European Space Agency is providing re-entry updates every day or two on its blog, including on the lab's potential landing zone, its altitude changes, and the re-entry window, which the agency now puts between March 30 and April 2. This drag force depends in part upon Tiangong-1's position and whether the station is tumbling, which is hard to know for sure.

It is not now confirmed whether notoriously secretive China has been able to maintain or re-establish links with Tiangong-1, which would let them fire engines at the last minute to avoid land collisions. In 2016, the Chinese space agency announced it was no longer tracking the 12-metre by 3.3-metre eight-tonne station.

The Tiangong-1 space station was launched into orbit on September 29, 2011, as a test platform for the future of China's space program.

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While most of the spacecraft is likely to burn up before hitting the Earth, some parts of the Tiangong-1 are still said to hit the ground, which has raised the concern among the scientists.

At the moment, the Tiangong-1 orbits over Italy roughly every 90 minutes, three to four times a day at an altitude between 220 and 220km above Earth.

A Chinese space station is set to plummet to Earth next week after the Chinese confess they've lost control of it. "It's more likely than not that this thing will reenter over an unpopulated area and it may be that no on ever sees it", Abraham said. Other, larger spacecraft have reentered, such as the 129,700-kilogram (143-ton) Russian Mir space station-though its reentry over the Pacific Ocean was controlled to minimize any risk of debris hitting populated regions.

But the odds of the craft hitting anyone is very low, as much of it will disintegrate when it hits the Earth's atmosphere. It was used as an experiment for a larger space station to be launched in 2023.

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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 agency said: "It is highly unlikely that debris from this reentry will strike any person or significantly damage any property".

The re-entry of Tiangong-1 into the atmosphere "will be between March 31 and April 4, 2018", according to a statement posted on the website of the China Manned Space Engineering Office.

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