The Space Debris Room of the European Space Agency ESA in Darmstadt, Germany. (AP Photo/Christoph Noelting)

Defunct Chinese space lab set to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere

Only about 10 per cent of the spacecraft will likely survive

China’s defunct Tiangong 1 space station hurtled toward Earth on Sunday and was expected to re-enter the atmosphere within hours.

Most of the craft should burn up on re-entry, so scientists said it poses only a slight risk to people on the ground.

The European Space Agency forecast that the station, whose name translates as “Heavenly Palace,” will re-enter sometime between Sunday night and early Monday GMT. The Chinese space agency said it should happen during the course of Monday Beijing time.

READ MORE: China’s defunct space lab speeds toward Earth for re-entry

The Aerospace Corp. predicted Tiangong 1’s re-entry would take place within 2 1/2 hours of either side of 0010 GMT Monday (8:10 p.m. Sunday EDT.)

Based on the space station’s orbit, it will come back to Earth somewhere 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south, a range covering most of the United States, China, Africa, southern Europe, Australia and South America. Out of range are Russia, Canada and northern Europe.

Only about 10 per cent of the bus-sized, 8.5-ton spacecraft will likely survive being burned up on re-entry, mainly its heavier components such as its engines. The chances of any one person being hit by debris are considered less than one in a trillion.

Launched in 2011, Tiangong 1 was China’s first space station, serving as an experimental platform for bigger projects, such as the Tiangong 2 launched in September 2016 and a future permanent Chinese space station.

The station played host to two crewed missions and served as a test platform for perfecting docking procedures and other operations. Its last crew departed in 2013 and contact with it was cut in 2016.

Since then it has been orbiting gradually closer and closer to Earth on its own while being monitored.

Western space experts say they believe China has lost control of the station. China’s chief space laboratory designer Zhu Zongpeng has denied Tiangong was out of control, but hasn’t provided specifics on what, if anything, China is doing to guide the craft’s re-entry.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Cowichan Crushers advance in Coastal Cup tourney

The U14 Gold girls soccer team put together a 2-0 win over the Albion Wolves

Column Drivesmart: DriveABLE being replaced with ERA for senior drivers

The ERA is designed as an assessment which provides RoadSafetyBC with comprehensive information

Vandekamp hiring an important step for Cowichan Capitals

Former Nanaimo coach brings considerable experience and a winning attitude that’s been lacking

Lake Flashback: Three heavy subjects: private forest lands, teachers striking, and parking bylaws

There’s also a bit of fun, too, as we enjoy going back to the ’70s

Chris Wilkinson column: Acceptance can be dangerous

She and her husband were headed down the path of least resistance with their health

NDP gives Liberal budget ‘failing grade’ on gender equality

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson said budget doesn’t do enough to focus on pay equity

B.C. town No. 1 honeymoon destination worldwide

Vernon came out on top in Expedia.ca’s list of top 18 honeymoon destinations worldwide

Men arrested at Starbucks say they feared for their lives

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks, becomign viral video

Olympic gold now official for B.C. weightlifter

Christine Girard’s bronze medal from 2012 Olympics upgraded to gold, IOC announces

Did a Canadian shoot down the Red Baron? A century later, debate hasn’t quit

Om April 21, 1918 two Canadians in their canvas-covered Sopwith Camel biplanes engaged the enemy

VIDEO: Canadian teen lands invite to Royal wedding

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have invited Faith Dickinson, founder of Cuddles for Cancer

B.C. liquor server wage to be phased out by 2021

Piece work pay for farm workers rises, but stays in place for now

Vancouver Whitecaps sign 16-year-old B.C. player

Grade 10 student from Langley joins MLS club

Folk legend Arlo Guthrie returns to Vancouver Island MusicFest

Island MusicFest executive producer Doug Cox went to the well one more… Continue reading

Most Read