Look up! Why? Well, the Chinese Tiangong 1 space station might crash on Earth. The station, which was never used as a fully functioning space home, was one of two that China launched. Instead, the “Heavenly Palace” (that’s roughly what the name translates to) was part of a program leading the way for China to eventually send a mission to Mars. So when is this space station supposed to fall? And more importantly, who could get hit?
Predictions of when the Chinese space station will fall to Earth aren’t entirely clear. It could fall anytime between late March and early April. According to the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office, the current re-entry window falls sometime between March 30 and April 3.
The experts also predict that if the space station falls over the U.S. it may land somewhere over southern Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio. But before you Midwesterners start running for cover, it’s unlikely that the debris will actually make it to Earth. Think about every movie about a spaceship, rocket, capsule or station that has fallen to Earth ever. Inevitably, the flying satellite turns into a crazy-hot ball of fire and pretty much incinerates in the atmosphere. And that’s what the experts are hoping will happen to Tiangong.
In reality, even the pros aren’t sure where the space station debris would or could land. The actual area is anywhere between 42.7 degrees N and 42.7 degrees S. And that’s a sizable chunk of the planet. If the debris does make it to Earth (meaning it doesn’t burn up entirely on entry), the chance of getting hit is one million times smaller than the odds that you’d have of winning Powerball, according to the Aerospace Corporation.
Are you in the path of the Chinese space station’s descent? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.