The recent craze regarding the falling Chinese space station called Tiangong-1 doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. And this is mostly because it is expected to crash back to Earth sometime between March 31 and April 1st. However, experts are saying that it may fall down on our planet on Easter Sunday. It’s worth mentioning that this target has a 16-hour error range. So, the space station could begin its final dive into the atmosphere anytime between Saturday and Sunday.
But there is still a big problem regarding Tiangong-1. Engineers and scientists are still not sure about the exact landing site of the space station. Part of the reason why this is still a mystery is because the station is the size of a school bus. Also, it is tumbling as it falls. This makes it almost impossible to predict exactly where it will crash on Earth. According to Roger Thompson, a senior engineering specialist with Aerospace Corp., the space station is indeed tumbling but the orientation is still a big mystery. They reportedly used U.S. Air Force radar data and telescope observations in order to confirm this theory.
Tiangong-1 to crash back to Earth on Easter
It’s worth mentioning that Tiangong-1 was launched back in September 2011. Its initial purpose was to test some docking systems. Also, technology that was crucial for the construction of a larger space station sometime in the 2020s. China’s unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft visited it back in November 2011, and other two crewed missions did the same thing in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
However, in March 2016, the space station interrupted any communication with the mission control center in Beijing. After that, the China Manned Space Engineering Office declared its mission over. Since then, Tiangong-1 has been floating through space aimlessly. Now, experts are expecting it to crash somewhere between the border of South Dakota and Nebraska in the north, and Tasmania in the south.
Image source: flickr