So, there’s a space station that’s expected to fall from the sky and crash in flames somewhere, anywhere on Earth in the upcoming months. Yep.
We wanted to tell you that just so you can sleep a little more comfortably.
Launched in 2011, “Tiangong-1” – which in Chinese literally means “Heavenly Palace 1” – is China’s first prototype space station.
Last year in September, Chinese officials confirmed they lost control of Tiangong-1 and stated it could crash into Earth sometime during the second half of 2017.
China gave an update in May of this year, reporting to the UN with new data that suggested the spaceship would enter the atmosphere between October 2017 and April 2018.
The ship, which weighs around eight tonnes and measures ten metres in length, is expected to blast into thousands of pieces during reentry into the atmosphere.
According to Harvard University astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, these ‘bits’ could weigh as much as 220 pounds each.
McDowell also said the ever-changing atmospheric conditions make it impossible for scientists to calculate the exact location of impact.
“You really can’t steer these things,” he told The Guardian.
“Even a couple of days before it reenters, we probably won’t know better than six or seven hours, plus or minus, when it’s going to come down.
“Not knowing when it’s going to come down translates as not knowing where it’s going to come down.”
Tiangong 1 served as a laboratory for space experiments for four and a half years – two years longer than the original plan.
Wu Ping, Deputy Director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office, said in a conference last March that the ship had “comprehensively fulfilled its historical mission.”
It hosted two three-manned crews including China’s first female astronaut, Liu Yang, in 2012.
Although it’s an extremely rare occurrence, other spacecrafts have fallen to the Earth before.
NASA’s “Skylab” fell over Western Australia in 1979, while Soviet space station “Salyut 7” crashed into Earth in 1991.