Chinese Space Station Unpiloted And Careening To Earth.
Chinese Space Station, Tiangong-1, aka Heavenly Gate, is expected to crash into earth’s surface in the upcoming months. Heavenly Gate was an important space project for China helping them to better establish themselves in the Space race.
The satellite was launched back in 2011 and had been the subject of many missions including housing the first female Chinese Astronaut. Tiangong was part of a test to create a modular space station.
It was first reported by officials in 2016 that Chinese Scientists had lost Control of their satellite. Scientists say the eight and a half ton satellite will, for the most part, break up on the descent down to earth but remnants could still potentially kill. It is estimated that falling debris from the Heavenly could weigh in at 220lbs. The big question is where since the scientists have no way of telling where the satellite will enter or by what trajectory.
Predicting where it is going to come down would be impossible even in the days ahead of its landing, McDowell said.
“You really can’t steer these things,” he said in 2016. “Even a couple of days before it re-enters 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.”
McDowell said a slight change in atmospheric conditions could nudge the landing site “from one continent to the next”.
There have been many uncontrolled re-entries of larger spacecraft and none have ever been reported to have caused injuries to people.
In 1991 the Soviet Union’s 20-tonne Salyut 7 space station crashed to Earth while still docked to another 20-tonne spacecraft called Cosmos 1686. They broke up over Argentina, scattering debris over the town of Capitán Bermúdez.
Nasa’s enormous 77-tonne Skylab space station came hurtling to Earth in an almost completely uncontrolled descent in 1979, with some large pieces landing outside Perth in Western Australia.