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Chinese space station to come crashing down to Earth soon

14 Octobre 2017

However, some of its larger components, weighing up to 100kg, could fall to Earth but are unlikely to land on any major population areas.

While the International Space Station typically gets all the headlines for its scientific achievements, the Chinese space agency's Tiangong-1, otherwise known as "Heavenly Palace", is sharing the limelight but for the wrong reasons.

But in 2016, after months of speculation, Chinese officials confirmed they had lost control of the space station and it would crash to Earth in 2017 or 2018. The Tiangong-1 was used for both types of space missions - manned as well as unmanned and was visited by Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut in 2012.

So far, that's meant a slow decay in its orbit, but in the last few weeks the craft has dropped to a denser part of the Earth's atmosphere and begun to descend more rapidly.

Some of the spacecraft will burn up in the atmosphere.

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"I expect it will come down a few months from now - late 2017 or early 2018".

When China told the United Nations that its space station that was launched in 2011 was on a downward spiral, predictions were that it would crash to Earth somewhere between October 2017 and April 2018. "Even a couple days before it re-enters we probably won't know better than six or seven hours, plus or minus, when it's going to come down", McDowell says, and knowing the time of the re-entry is necessary for calculating where the vessel will come down.

He said in 2016, "You really can't steer these things".

McDowell previously said: 'Not knowing when it's going to come down translates as not knowing where it's going to come down'. Even slight changes in upper atmosphere weather could nudge it between continents. They broke up over Argentina, scattering debris over the town of Capitán Bermúdez.

The 8.5-ton Tiagong-1 space station is making a descent toward earth in an uncontrolled fashion.

Chinese space station to come crashing down to Earth soon