Chinese Space Station Tiangong-1 Crashing to Earth
Tiangong-1 is expected to crash down to Earth this weekend, but experts say determining the exact time and location of the crash is pretty much impossible.
The satellite is expected to break up in the atmosphere so only very small pieces will actually fall to Earth. The satellite also contains the toxic chemical hydrazine, which can cause irreparable damage to the eyes, nose mouth, kidneys, lungs, blood, and central nervous system — great.
According to the Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies, “there may be a highly toxic and corrosive substance called hydrazine on board the spacecraft that could survive reentry. For your safety, do not touch any debris you may find on the ground nor inhale vapors it may emit.”
China first launched Tiangong-1, which means “Heavenly Palace,” in 2011, but lost control of it in 2016 due to a malfunction. It weighs 9.4 tons and is a little bit bigger than a school bus.
Again, chances are most of the satellite will burn up as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere. The air will rip off pieces of the craft, and superheated plasma will disintegrate much of the material. But titanium and select other pieces of hardware can withstand re-entry, and that’s the stuff that might fall to Earth and bop you on the head.
But don’t worry — the risk of actually being hit is really low, and here’s why. Any pieces that hit earth will scatter along a path projected to be about 1,240 miles long by 43 miles wide. Which is an extremely small percentage of the 197 million square mile surface of the Earth.
According to the ESA, the chances of getting hit by a piece of falling debris is 1 in 300 trillion, or 10 million times smaller than the annual chance of being struck by lightning.
What do you guys think? Should we send an emergency mission to space at taxpayer expense to blow this thing out of the sky before it can doom us all? Let us know in the comments below.
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