A Space Station Is About to Fall From the Sky—But Where Will It Hit? (Video)

space station
(Image: Aerospace.org)

A Chinese space station is on a collision course with Earth, and the latest predictions say it could come crashing down almost anywhere on the planet sometime between March 30 and April 2.

Named Tiangong-1, which translates to “Heavenly Palace,” the craft was placed in orbit in September 2011. The station was designed to be a testbed for robotic technologies, and it has seen multiple vehicle rendezvous, dockings, and taikonaut visits during its operational lifetime. This activity lays the groundwork for a more permanent space station the Chinese plan to launch in the near future.

In May 2017, Chinese officials released their first report to the United Nations saying that Tiangong-1 had ceased operating on March 16, 2016. Although it has maintained its structural integrity, the craft is all out of fuel and can no longer be controlled by teams on the ground.

Now circling Earth at an average altitude of 200 miles, the station is experiencing significant drag as it brushes against the planet’s denser outer atmosphere, and it’s losing altitude at a rate of about 2.5 miles a day. Eventually, Tiangong-1 will reach an altitude of about 43 miles and make a fiery reentry.

National Geographicexcerpt posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com, Mar. 28, 2018

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