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Telescope spots plunging Chinese space station which 'will hit Earth this week'

30 March 2018

When the Tiangong-1 which is the China's Space lab will be crashing to the earth in a superheated trail of plasma and space debris may be an April fool's Joke.

The 34-foot-long, 18,000 pound Tiangong-1, or "Heavenly Palace-1" was launched in 2011 as China's first attempt at an orbiting space lab.

Aerospace Corporation has created a dashboard the gives up-to-date information on the space station's location.

What is the Tiangong-1 Chinese space station?

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Map showing the area between 43 degrees North and 43 degrees South latitude where Tiangong-1 could fall this weekend.

. It was a major step towards China's goal of having a permanent space station by 2022.

But not knowing the components of Tiangong-1 makes estimating the danger more challenging, Swinburne University astronomer Alan Duffy said.

Tiangong-1 has officially stopped sending data and entered its final phase of life on March 16, a statement issued on Monday by the China Manned Space Engineering Office said.

Scientists now say that the reentry of Tiangong-1 is likely to trigger a spectacular series of fireballs which would be visible even in broad daylight.

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According to the Aerospace Corporation, the 8.5-ton space station could land along a strip of the United States from northern California to Pennsylvania, which includes the southern Lower Peninsula of MI. But pinpointing where that will happen exactly is hard. Only one person, a woman in Tulsa., Okla., was hit by a small piece of debris in 1996, and she was not injured, Aerospace engineers said.

The last time a space station deorbited was in 1979 with NASA's Skylab station, where parts of the station fell over Australia. However, regardless of how unlikely it is to be hit by anything coming from space, experts remain heavily critical about China for not taking any preemptive measures on this event.

That uncontrolled entry is making some here on Earth a little nervous.

"This thing is like a small plane crash", he said, adding that the trail of debris will scatter pieces several hundred kilometres apart.

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Holder Krag, with the European Space Agency said, "If you assume a typical spacecraft design, you would expect a fraction of 20 or 30 percent to survive re-entry and fall in the form of fragments. For your safety, do not touch any debris you may find on the ground or inhale vapors it may emit".