No April Fools': Chinese space station could smash into Earth

US in possible debris area as Chinese space lab plummets soon

China's defunct space lab could hurtle back to Earth later than previously forecast, with the European Space Agency saying it may re-enter the atmosphere as late as Monday (April 1) morning GMT.

The communist country's Manned Space Agency said the craft would re-enter Earth's atmosphere on Monday. The 10.5-meter, 8.5-ton decommissioned spacecraft was orbiting the planet at an altitude of 150.6 kilometers as of 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Space.com reports that the revised targets will change the likely debris fall area for Tiangong-1.

On March 31, the agency released new tracking information.

As little risk as there may be of debris hitting someone, it's good practice not to take that risk if you don't have to, and good manners not to dispose of your space junk over someone else's country.

An online tracking hub set up by the Aerospace Corporation suggests the Tiangong-1 is now orbiting above the South Atlantic Ocean.

But before that, Tiangong-1 was the first station China launched into space.

The space station is expected to land somewhere between 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south of the equator, a range covering most of the United States, China, Africa, southern Europe, Australia and South America. "The reentry of Tiangong-1 brings some awareness to this long ignored problem of space debris".

Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed
Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed

An out-of-control Chinese space station is expected to hit Earth in the next 12 hours.

"The most common spacecraft parts to survive the heat of re-entry are those with the highest melting temperature", says Dr Alice Gorman, a space archaeologist at Flinders University.

ESA said the spacecraft could land anywhere between 43 degrees north latitude and 43 degrees south latitude.

"I think we will have our first environmental superfund site in Earth orbit in the next decade given the amount of debris that is there right now and the projected increase of objects in the coming years due to cheap access to space", Reddy said.

The Chinese lost communication with the space station in 2016, meaning the reentry can not be controlled. It hosted two astronauts while in operation but has been empty since 2013.

The difficulties seemed to wrong-foot Chinese space scientists - just moments before announcing that the craft would come down over the Pacific, they had said it would make its re-entry over Sao Paulo and head towards the Atlantic Ocean.

At the time of writing, it is now hovering over the Atlantic ocean off the coast of North Africa and is predicted to hit south-east China, near the border with North Korea.

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