Chinese space station might fall on Thailand which has a 0.1% probability

Pablo Tucker
March 10, 2018

Tiangong-1, known as the "Heavenly Palace", originally launched in September 2011 and was viewed as a major step for the space agency in its quest to build a space station by 2020. Predicting where any debris could hit is next to impossible, according to Harvard University astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell.

The US research organisation Aerospace thinks debris from the station will re-enter Earth's atmosphere on April 3, give or take a week.

In its latest report, the Aerospace Corporation identified northern China, central Italy, northern Spain, the Middle East, New Zealand, Tasmania, South America, southern Africa and northern states in the regions with higher chances. Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency has stated that the module is presently at 246 kilometers from Earth and it will plummet to the surface on April 10 as per its descend rate is concerned.

"But the only ones who know what's onboard Tiangong-1, or even what it's made of, are the Chinese space agency".

For now, ground stations are able to track Tiangong-1 as it speeds along at 16,000 miles an hour some 180 miles above Earth.

While most of it will burn up during re-entry, around 10 to 40 per cent of the satellite is expected to survive as debris, and some parts may contain unsafe hydrazine.

In a written statement, a company spokesman said: 'When considering the worst-case locations, the probability that a specific person will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot.

"It's much more common to be hit by lightning", said Dr. William Ailor, principal engineer for the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies at Aerospace. On 21 March 2016 the Manned Space Engineering Office announced that they had disabled data service, since the space station had operated two and half years longer than its intended two-year service plan.

It is hard to predict the location of the crash due to a number of reasons, yet all space agencies have been informed to take precautions and measures required to counter any effect of hydrazine if in case some amount of it survives Earth's atmosphere and fall on the surface.

An Aerospace analysis found that "the risk that an individual will be hit and injured by a piece of debris is estimated to be less than one in a one trillion".

The eight-tonne Tiangong-1 space station is now at an altitude of 150 miles, and can not be steered towards the ocean as is normal with large spacecraft re-entering the atmosphere. There may be hazardous material on board that could survive re-entry, it said. But we will only know where they are going to land after after the fact'.

'The date, time and geographic footprint of the re-entry can only be predicted with large uncertainties. Authorities believe that most of its parts will burn up in the atmosphere, but some chunks could make it through and land somewhere near Thailand.

In the history of spaceflight, no casualties due to falling space debris have ever been confirmed.

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