THE out-of-control Chinese space station is set to hit Earth on Easter Sunday.
Estimates say the Tiangong-1 space craft will enter the Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday at 11:33am BST and could unleash a series of fireballs watched by observers.
Experts are still not sure where the satellite fragments are likely to land but areas that could be hit include New York, Barcelona and Rome.
The 34 x 11ft space craft – about the size of a school bus – was launched back in 2011, but has since lost connection with China’s space agency and is now falling out of orbit.
Despite a consensus from experts around the world, China hasn’t actually admitted that the spacecraft’s descent is uncontrolled.
The space craft’s descent is currently being tracked by Aerospace engineering and The European Space Agency (Esa) – and say it is currently dropping out of orbit by about 2.5 miles a day.
Zhu Congpeng, from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporate said: “We have been continuously monitoring Tiangong-1 and expect to allow it to fall within the first half of this year.”
“It will burn up on entering the atmosphere and the remaining wreckage will fall into a designated area of the sea, without endangering the surface.”
The odds of being struck by a space debris are one in 1.2trillion.
Tiangong-1, which means ‘heavenly palace’ in Chinese, is carrying a highly toxic chemical called hydrazine.
The material is used as rocket fuel, but exposure to humans is believed to cause symptoms like nausea and seizures, with long-term contact said to cause cancer.
The good news is that it’s very unlikely that anyone will actually get hit by the spacecraft, which is expected to break up into debris upon re-entry.
A statement from the non-profit Aerospace Corporation explains: “When considering the worst-case location, the probability that a specific person will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot.”
“In the history of spaceflight, no known person has ever been harmed by re-entering space debris.”
“Only one person has ever been recorded as being hit by a piece of space debris and, fortunately, she was not injured.”
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SOURCE: The Sun – Olivia Loveridge-Greene and Sean Keach