Published Date : Mar 23, 2018
An out-of-control, Chinese space station named Tiangong-1 is slated to fall to Earth in the next few weeks. However, it’s unlikely to cause much damage should it make it all the way to the surface of the planet.
Tiangong-1 was launched in September 2011, to help test the docking and rendezvous technologies, which China aims to complete by the mid-2020s. The re-entry band is unchanged and exists between 43°N and 43°S. However, FHR says impact predictions won't become clear until the stricken space station begins to enter the atmosphere. When that happens, its rotation will affect the likely impact zone, how the space station breaks up once it enters the atmosphere, and weather conditions at the time.
A couple of University of Arizona astronomers are observing Tiangong-1 with an optical sensor in which they invested roughly US$1,500.
The first Chinese orbital docking occurred between Tiangong-1 and an unpiloted Shenzhou spacecraft on Nov. 2, 2011. Two piloted missions were subsequently completed to visit Tiangong-1: Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10, in June 2012 and June 2013, respectively.
Meanwhile, ESA will serve as host and administrator of a test campaign regarding the re-entry of Tiangong-1, conducted by the Inter Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC). IADC members will use the fall of Tiangong-1 to conduct their annual re-entry test campaign, during which participants will pool their predictions of the time window, as well as their respective tracking datasets obtained from radar and other sources. The aim is to cross-verify, cross-analyze and improve the prediction accuracy for all members.