China's Space Station Will Crash Within Days

Lemmens calculated the odds of being struck by space debris at one in 1.2 trillion - 10 million times less likely than getting hit by lightning.

A five-day window beginning March 30th has been promoted as the most likely timeframe for when the space station will fall from the heavens.

The European Space Agency predicts the fall to occur anytime from this Friday to next Monday. The rotation is one of the factors in determining when the space station will hit Earth.

     BLAST OFF A Long March 2FT1 rocket carrying Tiangong-1
GETTY BLAST OFF A Long March 2FT1 rocket carrying Tiangong-1

But, it's also worth noting that Tiangong-1 itself is just a fraction of the size of other objects that have fallen (controlled or uncontrolled) to Earth. This is a rare phenomenon, it was in 2001 when Russian space station Mir fell on Earth (ocean). The concern is less that surviving pieces of the space station will smash into people and more that the hydrazine will be a problem; this is especially worrisome because, being the curious humans that we are, those who don't know any better will probably go hunting for parts as souvenirs or collectibles. 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.

Tiangong-1's reentry is being closely monitored by The Aerospace Corporation's Center for Orbital and Debris Reentry Studies (CORDS) which focuses on Aerospace's research and technology applications in the areas of space debris, collision avoidance, and re-entry breakup, providing a single point of contact for debris reporting information.

Experts say it's highly unlikely that large pieces of schoolbus-sized Tiangong-1 will survive re-entry through the atmosphere. China's free-falling space station weighs in at a little less than 19,000 pounds.

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It's important to note that the majority of Tiangong-1 is expected to burn up upon reentry into our atmosphere. The out-of-control spacecraft is expected to drop any time now, and scientists attempting to forecast its demise have pinned the deorbit date for the end of March or beginning of April.

Launched in September 2011, Tiangong-1 an experimental had a design life of two years.

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The laboratory comprised several modules and was able to support up to three astronauts for two weeks at a time.

For argument's sake, and you do become the unluckiest person on the planet to suffer injury or loss because of falling space junk from Tiangong-1, those same space treaties mean you would have some cause for complaint.

The UAI has compiled a table that lists when Tiangong-1 will be passing over or near parts of Italy: find the data here.

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  • Ryan Wade