update: The estimated time of re-entry was updated to reflect Aurospace.org’s new estimate as of 5:12 pm EDT 4/1/18
The out-of-control Chinese space station, Tiangong-1, is expected to enter Earth’s atmosphere and begin burning up late on Easter Sunday, and now officials have a good guess where the 8 and a half ton spacecraft will come down.
According to Aerospace.org, atmospheric re-entry could begin at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, March 1, 2018. The uncertainty in the current time estimate means that re-entry could begin anywhere between 6:30 pm and 10:30 pm Sunday Eastern Time.
Based on the station’s current track, best estimates predict that remnants will most likely land in the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of South America.
Scientists are warning that while most of the station will burn up on re-entry, some parts will likely crash to Earth between 43 North and 43 South latitude which puts most of the planet’s major cities in its crosshairs.
Currently, the station is about 76 miles above the Earth and
The space station, launched Sept. 29, 2011, is about the size of a school bus and weighs just under 19,000 pounds.
Tiangong’s orbit is decaying by about 2.5 miles each day as it’s speed is slowed by the outer atmosphere.
No one has ever been killed by falling de-orbiting space debris and the chances that Tiangong will hit anyone are astronomical.
In 2011, Nasa worked out that the chance of a 6.5-tonne object hitting a particular human (you or me, for example) was about one in 21 trillion. Tiangong-1 weighs 8.5 tonnes.
The most notable incident of falling debris reaching Earth was when parts of NASA’s Skylab landed in the Australian outback resulting in a $400 fine for littering.