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Tiangong-1 space station expected to plummet to Earth this weekend

Tiangong-1 space station expected to plummet to Earth this weekend

It is making an uncontrolled re-entry to Earth.

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

It is unclear how much of the spacecraft would break up in the fiery fall but a Harvard astronomer, Jonathan McDowell, has estimated the debris could weigh as much as 100kg.

The European Space Agency has a blog with re-entry updates for Tiangong-1.

NBC News explains only one person named Lottie Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is known to be hit by space debris falling to Earth.

A map showing the area over which Tiangong-1 could re-enter.

The space craft's descent is now being tracked by Aerospace engineering and the ESA - and say it is now dropping out of orbit by about 2.5 miles a day.

Tiangong-1's uncontrolled re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere is a widely-observed event and all major space observatories are closely watching the Chinese space station's descent and tracking its potential crash location and time.

If you find that frightening, space expert John Logsdon of George Washington University has a word of advice.

It's fair to say, the chances of Tiangong-1 striking you are slim.

The 8.5-ton and 10m Tiangong-1 space laboratory, which means "Heavenly Palace", was launched on September 30, 2011.

"A high-speed stream of particles from the Sun, which was expected to reach Earth and influence our planet's geomagnetic field, did, in fact, not have any effect, and calmer space weather around Earth and its atmosphere is now expected in the coming days", the ESA said.

It was created to be a manned lab, has two modules, including sleeping space for two astronauts, according to the Aerospace Corporation.

Since China conducted its first crewed mission in 2003 - becoming only the third country after Russian Federation and the U.S.to do so - it has taken on increasingly ambitious projects, including staging a spacewalk and landing its Jade Rabbit rover on the moon.

Chinese authorities say it is unlikely the nine-tonne space station will cause any damage. There are no astronauts now on board the space station. China also plans to become the first country to soft-land a probe on the far side of the moon.

"The thin structure melts first, turning the lab into a bunch - a few to a few dozen, depending - of independent pieces which melt and burn more slowly - fireballs". Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, South America, and southern parts of Europe and Asia are all possible landfalls.


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