Chinese space station Tiangong-1 expected to make an uncontrolled re-entry between January and March in 2018

The Tiangong-1 space station will make an uncontrolled reentry into the Earth in early 2018. Often such re-entry leads the spacecraft to burn up. Thus, it has been predicted that the spacecraft's fragments may fall in various parts of Europe within a specific latitude. The prediction date lies between January and March 2018.

Tiangong-1. Reuters.

Tiangong-1. Reuters.

Holger Krag, head of ESA’s Space Debris Office, said, “Owing to the geometry of the station’s orbit, we can already exclude the possibility that any fragments will fall over any spot further north than 43 degrees north, or further 42 degrees south.” He has confirmed that the falling of fragments may take place between the two latitudes and this includes many European countries. Moreover, it is 300 km closer to the Earth.

According to the European Space Agency (ESA), the Chinese space station has been unoccupied since 2013. Then in 2016, ESA had not been able to make any contact with the space station.

Now, the prediction says that the space station will eventually decay. Since it would decay, the fragments may fall due to the burning of the spacecraft while re-entering.

Tiangong-1 spacecraft has a mass of 8506 kg. It has a diameter of 3.3 metre and a height of 12 metre.

Meanwhile, International Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IASDCC) members would be organising a campaign to track the re-entry of the spacecraft. The IASDCC would be conducting this to study various predictions, available data set and test them to come with proper analysis. Meanwhile, the ESA would be organising a campaign on 28 February to study various predictions and atmospheric break-up studies in this specific area.

Despite the predictions, ESA has said that there have been instances like this before and as of now, there have been no casualties reported. Previously one such uncontrollable re-entry was of ESA's own spacecraft, GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer) satellite in 2013.


Updated Date: Nov 10, 2017 08:52 AM