Chinese space station Tiangong-1 is out of control and will crash into Earth in the coming months, according to reports.
The huge 8.5-ton Tiangong-1 space station built by China is out of control and will collide with Earth in the next few months, according to a report from the Guardian. The space station was launched in 2011 but has seen its orbit decay ever since Chinese officials lost the ability to fix its altitude last year.
Now, Tiangong-1 is expected to plunge to its death between October 2017 and April 2018, and at least one expert thinks that it will be in the early part of that time frame because it is entering the atmosphere at a much more rapid pace than previously predicted. Large chunks of the station weighing up to 220 pounds could survive the entry into the atmosphere and the ground at a very high speed.
And there won’t be much advance notice of when it does make impact, as scientists will have just a few hours of heads up when Tiangong-1 will crash and therefore rare. Fortunately, the odds of it hitting a densely populated area are remote, since more than two-thirds of the Earth is covered by water and even most land is uninhabitated.
“Now that [its] perigee is below 300 kilometers [186 miles] and it is in denser atmosphere, the rate of decay is getting higher,” Harvard Univeristy astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell told the Guardian. “I expect it will come down a few months from now—late 2017 or early 2018.”