China’s very first space station they managed to launch is apparently about to fall back down to Earth, just weeks after its launch.
In 2016, China reportedly lost control of its satellite Taiangong-1. They admitted that a regular solution to the problem, a controlled re-entry of the satellite would no longer be an option.
They say it is nearly impossible to predict the location where the satellite will fall to the Earth, and it’s not even very clear how hard it will impact or whether it will destroyed on the way down.
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) March 8, 2018
However according to Aerospace, an organization that provides info on things like this, Lower Michigan may be the place the satellite strikes. On the border of Indiana and Michigan, near the city of South Bend, Indiana in a region they call “Michiana,” this satellite might fall down.
The space station actually weighs 8.5 tons. They say it should crash somewhere around April 3, 2018, plus one week when it reenters at some point between 43° North and 43° South latitudes, Aerospace claims.
Of course, this isn’t really going to harm anyone most likely. According to Aerospace:
“When considering the worst-case location … the probability that a specific person (ie, you) 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 reentering space debris. Only one person has ever been recorded as being hit by a piece of space debris and, fortunately, she was not injured.”
Just checked the orbit data, there are currently 8 objects in lower orbits than Tiangong-1. Well, 7 mabye, the Columbia cubesat was expected to reenter about 6 hours ago
— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) March 7, 2018
Aerospace also claims that depending on a person’s location, they might be able to witness the satellite crash:
“Depending on the time of day and cloud visibility, the reentry may appear as multiple bright streaks moving across the sky in the same direction.
Due to the relatively large size of the object, it is expected that there will be many pieces reentering together, some of which may survive reentry and land on the Earth’s surface.”
However, there is one distinct concern. A toxic substance called hydrazine might be on board the space station: if they said “might,” it is probably there.
It is very corrosive, and it might survive the satellite entering the atmosphere. People might just get sprayed with a corrosive substance, or it might evenly be distributed throughout the air.