Skylab scare again? China's first Space module could fall to Earth in March 2018

Tiangong-1 lifts off
The Long March II-F rocket loaded with China's unmanned space module Tiangong-1 lifts off from the launch pad in the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu province September 29, 2011. China successfully launched an experimental craft paving the way for its first space station on Thursday amid a blaze of national pride, bringing the growing Asian power closer to matching the United States and Russia with a long-term manned outpost in space. Reuters

The upcoming year 2018 brings a new potential threat from the space as China's first space module Tiangong-1 that might make an uncontrolled re-entry to the Earth during the first phase of March 2018.

China officially declared that they have lost control over the space station since March 21, 2016. The officials stated that the space station which was launched on September 30, 2011, might fall into the Earth's atmosphere in the early phase of 2018.

Aerospace Corporation, an organization which studies the re-entering space objects, had been observing and calculating the space station's fall to make predictions about the location and possible date of the impact.

The agency made its most recent prediction on December 19, 2017, stating that Tiangong-1 might fall in March 2018 somewhere between 43 degrees North and 43 degrees South. The region which faced the threat of the impact included Europe and North America, including the US and Canada.

The researchers would determine the exact location and time of the impact only after the space station's re-entry to the Earth atmosphere. China's astronomers and European Space Agency researchers are keeping vigil on the falling module.

The Aerospace Corporation's analysis of Two-Line Element set data from the Joint Space Operation Center (JSpOC) states that the space station had made its last orbital adjustment in December 2015 and had been orbiting Earth uncontrollably since June 2016. Sources say that the scientists would be able to gain control of the station once it gets inside the Earth's atmosphere.

Tiangong-1 has a habitable volume of 15 cubic meters which had been equipped with 2 sleep stations for the astronauts. Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10 missions had brought 6 astronauts to the space station on June 16, 2012, and June 11, 2013. The first mission lasted for 11 days in the space station while the second mission had 13 space station days.

Fourteen space stations have been sent to orbit the Earth since 1971. However, the International Space Station and China's Tiangong 2 are the only currently functional space stations.

Even though debris from space missions had been regularly falling to Earth, it had not caused any serious harm to humans or properties. There has been only one instant of space debris which hit a person in 1996, though it didn't cause any serious injury.

Officials sources state that the re-entry could be seen as multiple bright streaks moving through the sky in the same direction. The space station may break into many pieces upon its re-entry and some pieces may survive burning by the Earth's atmosphere. However, scientists have recommended not to touch or inhale vapors of the debris as many toxic corrosive substances would be present in them.