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EYES ON SKY SPACE STATION CRASHING TO EARTH

Issued: 2018-03-31

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Experts say the plummeting space craft will light up the sky like a meteor shower as it burns through the Earth's atmosphere somewhere between today and Easter Monday

THE out-of-control Chinese space station heading for Earth this weekend is expected to put on a "splendid show", according to experts.

The Tiangong-1 space craft is expected to tear across the sky - similar to that of a meteor shower - once it plummets into the Earth's atmosphere somewhere between today and Easter Monday.

Chinese authorities say it is unlikely the nine-tonne space station will cause any damage.

Holger Krag, head of the European Space Agency said: "If you're in the right place at the right times, and the sky is clear, it will be quite spectacular.

The ESA is currently predicting a narrower window of tonight to late Sunday evening.

"It will be visible to the naked eye, even in daylight, and look like a slow-moving shooting star that splits into a few more shooting stars. You might even see a smoke trial."

The 34 x 11ft space craft - about the size of a school bus - was launched back in 2011, but has since lost connection with China's space agency and is now falling out of orbit.

The space craft's descent is currently being tracked by Aerospace engineering and the ESA - and say it is currently dropping out of orbit by about 2.5 miles a day.

Zhu Congpeng, from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporate said: "We have been continuously monitoring Tiangong-1 and expect to allow it to fall within the first half of this year."

"It will burn up on entering the atmosphere and the remaining wreckage will fall into a designated area of the sea, without endangering the surface."

The odds of being struck by a space debris are one in 1.2trillion.

Tiangong-1, which means 'heavenly palace' in Chinese, is carrying a highly toxic chemical called hydrazine.

The material is used as rocket fuel, but exposure to humans is believed to cause symptoms like nausea and seizures, with long-term contact said to cause cancer.

The good news is that it's very unlikely that anyone will actually get hit by the spacecraft, which is expected to break up into debris upon re-entry.

A statement from the non-profit Aerospace Corporation explains: "When considering the worst-case location, the probability that a specific person will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot."

"In the history of spaceflight, no known person has ever been harmed by re-entering space debris."

"Only one person has ever been recorded as being hit by a piece of space debris and, fortunately, she was not injured."

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