Chinese out-of-control space lab to 'gate crash' into earth's atmosphere on Easter Sunday

New York, Beijing, Madrid, Cleveland, Barcelona, Rome, Toronto, Chicago, and Istanbul are some target cities


Tiangong-1, the Chinese space station which went out of control in 2016 is expected to make its re-entry into the earth's atmosphere on Easter Sunday, April 01, 2018.

Even though the re-entry is just hours away, space scientists are still clueless as to where the laboratory will fall on earth. Moreover, the spacecraft is carrying highly dangerous chemicals Hydrazine, and if it gets spilled in populated areas, then chances of casualties will be high.

Experts believe that more than 40 percent of the 8000-kilogram space laboratory will be burned up once it re-enters the earth's atmosphere. However, there are chances that large pieces of debris will make its way to the surface of the earth which may result in unexpected destruction. For scientists, it is very difficult to predict the exact area where the space station will make its impact, as it is orbiting the earth at a speed of 18,000 kmph.

According to the Aerospace Corporation, which is monitoring its crash for over a year, some of the areas which may likely to get hit with the debris include New York, Beijing, Madrid, Cleveland, Barcelona, Rome, Toronto, Chicago, and Istanbul. The researchers revealed that the re-entry will happen once the space laboratory reaches an altitude of about 43 miles above the earth's surface.

Stijn Lemmens, an ESA space debris expert revealed that the chances of inflicting a human injury are very less, as in all probabilities the space station will fall on to the oceans which cover more than 72 percent of our planet surface. The space expert added that odds of getting hit with a space debris are one in 1.2 trillion.

"Over the past 60 years of space flight, we are nearing the mark of 6,000 uncontrolled reentries of large objects, mostly satellites and upper rocket stages. Only one event actually produced a fragment which hit a person, and it did not result in injury," Lemmens told AFP.

Markus Dolensky, an official at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, told CNN that spectators on earth will witness a series of fireballs streaking across the sky during the re-entry. If conditions are clear, people living in mid-latitude areas in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere will be able to witness the event with the naked eye.

Tiangong-1, the first Chinese space station was launched in 2011. The space laboratory was supposed to end its operation in 2013, but Chinese space agency decided to extend its lifespan for another couple of years. Later, in 2016, Chinese space agency revealed that they had lost control over the space lab.

This article was first published on March 30, 2018