What first was shown as a worldwide representation of greatness and advancement, now is considered as a potential threat.

Although this is not new, we believe important to continually remind the fact that a Chinese space station is not-so-slowly falling without any control. As visible, the chances tell us that it won’t stop until it arrives on Earth. However, and probably the worst part of all, not even officials from the Asian country know where the 8.5-ton machine is going to land. They only estimate that Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace, is going to crash around 27 March and 8 April, 2018.

This space station marked a significant peak in China’s space history, and not only because they completely messed up. In 2011, they launched the machine thinking it was going to be a success, and that it was going to lead the country to be the third one – after the US and Russia – to put a space station up there. Then, as they had it projected, it was going to be replaced through the following decade by the larger Tiangong-2 and Tiangong-3 modules.

China had two years to show everyone how progressive they were. This was demonstrated thanks to the series of Shenzhou spacecraft that visited the station during its operational lifetime. Likewise, Tiangong-1 was able to receive the first Chinese women who not only first reached space, but also meet a station from their own nation.

The Heavenly Palace, Tiangong-1, Chinese space station falling to Earth without control
The Heavenly Palace is supposed to land between March and April. Image credit: Getty

Sadly, things started going entirely against the plan. The time passed, and citizens and worldwide researchers also began wondering why anyone from the Chinese officials had mentioned the status of the Heavenly Palace.

On 21 March 2016, the China’s Space Engineering Office stated that Tiangong-1 had officially ended its service because it had lost in space. However, a couple of months later, a few amateur satellite trackers found not only the station itself, but that the officials had lost the control over the Heavenly Palace.

That same year in September, when the truth was finally assumed, the Chinese experts estimated that the sign of greatness was going to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere at the end of 2017. However, those estimations changed in November of that year after seeing that the station was at barely 300 km high.

Waiting for the day

As far as today, we know that Tiangong-1 has an altitude of 240 km, and that space agencies around the planet are tracking it. One of them is the European Space Agency’s center in Darmstadt, which recently stated that the defunct module could descend between 27 March and 8 April.

The Heavenly Palace, Tiangong-1, Chinese space station falling to Earth without control
The Heavenly Palace was supposed to be a sign of greatness and advancement. Image credit: Pixabay

The experts considered they needed more information to know for sure anything from the spacecraft that could “survive” the landing. Some of its material could harm populated areas.

“To make any sensible statement about what will survive, we’d need to know what’s inside,” said Stijn Lemmens, a space debris analyst at the ESA’s Darmstadt center. “But the only ones who know what’s onboard Tiangong-1, or even what it’s made of, are the Chinese space agency.”

The uncontrolled Heavenly Palace could mostly crash in North and South America, China, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, parts of Europe, as the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Source: The Guardian