Published: Tue, October 17, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Out of control Chinese space station visible over Oklahoma Tuesday evening

Out of control Chinese space station visible over Oklahoma Tuesday evening

Referred to as the "Heavenly Palace" by CNSA, in its early years a range of missions took place at Tiangong-1. Back in fall 2016, Chinese officials confirmed that the space station would crash into Earth in either late 2017 or early 2018.

The 8.5-ton Tiangong-1, or "Heavenly Palace", satellite is now out of control and is doomed to plunge into the atmosphere, a top academic has warned.

An astrophysicist at Harward University, Jonathan McDowell was the first who told about Tiangong-1 crash in an interview with the Guardian on Friday.

China also has plans to begin work on a new space station in 2019 and hopes to establish a permanent space presence by 2022.

'Based on our calculation and analysis, most parts of the space lab will burn up during falling, said Wu Ping, deputy director of the manned space engineering office, quoted Xinhua.

He added: "There will be lumps of about 100 [kilograms] or so, still enough to give you a nasty wallop if it hit you". Some of the station's larger metal components could still tumble to the surface, and getting nailed with a huge hunk of metal moving at terminal velocity will most certainly be the end of your life.

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No. The Guardian reported that larger spacecraft than Tiangong-1 have made uncontrolled re-entries and there have been no reported injuries to people.

Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to predict exactly when and where the crash will occur, McDowell said.

Salyut 7 space station of the Soviet Union crashed on Earth in February 1991, after serving nine years in space in a low orbit of the Earth.

"Yes, there's a chance it will do damage, it might take out someone's vehicle, there will be a rain of a few pieces of metal, it might go through someone's roof, like if a flap fell off a plane", McDowell told the Guardian in 2016.

He also said that "we probably won't know better than six or seven hours, plus or minus, when it's going to come down".

In 1979, NASA's 77-tonne Skylab space station came crashing down on Earth in an nearly uncontrolled descent.

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