China’s Tiangong-1 space lab is expected to fall back to Earth between March 31 and April 4. The space authorities said that the debris will be showered and may burn up in the atmosphere
In a statement issued by the China Manned Space Engineering Office said that Tiangong-1 has stopped sending data and has entered its final phase of life on March 16.
“It will mostly burn up due to the extreme heat generated by its high-speed passage through the atmosphere,” it said in a statement.
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space Debris Office in Darmstadt, Germany, which issued the Tiangong-1 prediction, said the March 30 to April 2 window is “highly variable,” and it will not be possible to determine exactly where the space station will fall to Earth. However, the space station will re-enter somewhere between the latitudes of 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south, based on its current orbital inclination.
“Areas above or below these latitudes can be excluded. At no time will a precise time/location prediction from ESA be possible,” agency officials said in a statement.
“In the history of spaceflight, no casualties due to falling space debris have ever been confirmed,” ESA said in a blog post on its website.
According to some experts, Tiangong could crush anywhere and the exact location is not yet known.
The Tiangong is also known as Heavenly Palace is orbiting at an average height of about 216.2 kms.
It was launched in September 2011, Tiangong-1 an experimental had a design life of two years.
“Owing to the geometry of the station’s orbit, we can already exclude the possibility that any fragments will fall over any spot further north than 43ºN or further south than 43ºS,” says Holger Krag, Head of ESA’s Space Debris Office.
The European Space Agency will be providing updates as it better projects when and where the spacecraft tumbles out of space and back to Earth.