Scientists at European Space Agency (ESA) predicted that the now decommissioned Chinese space station, ‘Tiangong-1’ or ‘Heavenly Palace 1’ will crash on Earth somewhere on Thailand with a probability of 0.1%. ESA has been tracking the descent of China’s first space station on which, the ground command lost control in 2016. The 8-tonne module will be making an uncontrolled re-entry in April 2018. Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency has stated that the module is presently at 246 kilometers from Earth and it will plummet to the surface on April 10 as per its descend rate is concerned.
Tiangong-1 was launched in 2011 with the aim of being in operation until 2023, however, in 2016, the ground command lost control over the space station after which, it has missed several boosts which are given to maintain the right orbit and prevent the space station from plummeting down the Earth. The module is hurtling down to the Earth at present with its current altitude of 246 kilometers from the surface of the Earth. Following its uncontrolled reentry and potential crash, Anond Snidvongs of GISTDA disapproved any news stating that its crash can be harmful and especially, the hydrazine propellant that the space station has carried. Hydrazine is extremely harmful and can cause cancer, however, it must be inhaled or touched for a prolonged duration in other to show its adverse effects.
According to Anond, a satellite or space station carries hydrazine as a propellant for which, the quantity required is calculated on the ground based on aspects like required fuel for the proposed journey duration. During entry, this harmful propellant will burn upon its contact with the Earth’s atmosphere along with the spacecraft itself. Scientists have been making assumptions to predict the spot of the crash, however, it is unlikely since Tiangong-1 will face erratic behavior when near Earth’s atmosphere and gravity which will tear it apart even before crashing on the surface. Scientists will gather at Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand on March 16 when the module is expected to flyby giving some data on its actual landing site.
It is difficult to predict the location of the crash due to a number of reasons, yet all space agencies have been informed to take precautions and measures required to counter any effect of hydrazine if in case some amount of it survives Earth’s atmosphere and fall on the surface. China’s space agency has been delaying its re-entry since 2017 which led out the word about the fact that the command has lost control over the module. In September 2017, the re-entry of the space station was delayed as to make it crash over the South Pacific Ocean where debris from US and Russian space stations are collected.
A non-profit group, California-based Aerospace Corporation which has been associated with US Government over financial advice on the subject of space has claimed that the module is unlikely to crash and hit someone since it will be destroyed upon its re-entry in the atmosphere. Although, some of the pieces of the wreckage, as well as some amount of hydrazine, can survive it. Follow the in-depth tracking of the soon-to-crash space station on TeCake with updates every week.