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Falling Chinese Space Station Tiangong-1 Expected to Reenter in Early April

Falling Chinese Space Station Tiangong-1 Expected to Reenter in Early April

A monitoring screen at the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center shows China's Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) 1 module as seen from the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft after docking on November 3, 2011. | Reuters/CCTV via Reuters TV

Tiangong-1, China's first manned space station, is expected to reenter the earth's atmosphere in the first week of April, but people should not be worried about being affected by any falling debris unless they are just really, really unlucky.

According to a new study made by The Aerospace Corporation last week, they predict that the Tiangong-1 will reenter by April 3. While the space station is expected to burn up through the earth's atmosphere and will not leave any physical trace behind, there is still a very miniscule chance that some debris may survive the reentry process and impact the ground.

Aerospace reports that, should some matter make it through, the surviving debris would fall within a region of a few hundred kilometers in size. Aerospace uploaded a map of the world that shows a probability of where any surviving debris may fall. All in all, about two-thirds of the earth is at risk.

However, the article assures people that the odds of a person being struck by space debris is incredibly small. Specifically, Aerospace writes that the chances of someone getting hit by falling space station is about a million times smaller than the odds of winning the lottery jackpot.

In the history of space flight, there has only been one recorded incident of someone unfortunate enough to hit those odds and, luckily enough, no one was harmed.

The Tiangong-1 was first launched in 2011 and had a designed life expectancy of just two years. It successfully completed its intended mission over the course of that time and, by 2013, was placed into sleep mode after its crew had left.

From 2013 until 2016, the space station remained in orbit and collected data before it would gradually drift towards earth and reenter the atmosphere. On March 2016, the Manned Space Engineering Office announced that they had finally disabled the station's data service and expected it to be destroyed by heat in the earth's atmosphere between March and April 2018.


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