An out of control space station is currently hurtling towards Earth and will crash land very soon according to scientists.
The Tiangong 1 station is currently lurching its way towards Earth like a drunk heading to the chippy after a night on the town, we know it’s coming we just don’t know when.
According to astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell in an interview with The Guardian we don’t know the exact time the station will hit the Earth but we can ‘expect it will come down a few months from now’ most likely ‘late 2017 or early 2018’.
Tiangong 1 was launched in 2011 as part of Chinese outer space ambitions and was reportedly part of a plan to prove to the world that China had become a global superpower.
The station nicknamed by ‘Heavenly Place’by the Chinese Space Agency (CNSA) was designed to be a manned laboratory and an experimental test bed to demonstrate orbital rendezvous and docking capabilities.
Unfortunately the CNSA admitted they lost control of the station and that it was falling towards Earth, putting to bed speculation from other space agencies about the satellites unusual orbit.
Now there are concerns that the modules making up the station are too large to burn up in reentry and that people may be at risk from falling space debris.
McDowell claims that most of the sattelite will burn up when it hits Earth’s atmosphere but there are some pieces as big as 100kg that will make it through and fall to the Earth.
Thankfully it’s unlikely any one will be harmed by the debris as the satellite will probably crash into the sea.
Scientists are struggling to predict where the satellite will fall because engineers have reportedly lost complete control of the capsule making it vulnerable to winds changing it’s trajectory.
In the past, space junk has fallen within sight of people most famously Skylab in 1979 which did not burn up as fast as NASA expected, and debris landed southeast of Perth in Western Australia, resulting in a debris path between Esperance and Rawlinna.
Officials from NASA arrived in Esperance to check the wreckage and every local who brought a piece of the satellite to them was given a plaque as a reward.
The San Francisco Examiner even went so far as to offer $10,000 dollars to the first person to arrive at their office with an authentic piece of Skylab and that the winner had just 72 hours to get to America.
Amazingly the prize was claimed by 17-year-old Stan Thorton from Esperance.
Interestingly NASA didn’t get away with dropping tonnes of debris across the Australian coast. The shire of Esperance fined NASA $400 for littering, a fine which remained unpaid for 30 years until radio show host Scott Barley of Highway Radio paid the fine on behalf of NASA.