China's space lab set for re-entry

SatView provides real-time tracking so you can always know where the station is.

Researchers installing China's first space station module Tiangong-1 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province prior to its launch on September 29, 2011.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has given a smaller time window for re-entry of between midday Saturday and early afternoon on Easter Sunday Irish time.

The station's mass is now expected to be "significantly" lower, comparable with other end-of-life satellites, of which ESA said between three and four uncontrollably re-enter the Earth's atmosphere each month.

Given that the Earth is around 71 percent water, and given that the majority of the space station is unlikely to survive re-entry into the planet's atmosphere - it's highly unlikely that anything on land will be affected by the falling debris.

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The possible area of impact will not be outside 43 degrees North or South of the Equator, and although the report states that almost 5.2 billion people live inside the impact area, most of it is the only ocean.

Below are some questions and answers about the station, its re-entry and the past and future of China's ambitious space program. So far, the predictions are that Tiangong-1 will re-enter Earth on Sunday, around 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT), according to Aerospace Corporation.

Earlier, the plan was to bring the space lab back to Earth through a controlled final descent and make it land safely somewhere in the world's oceans, according to the ESA. Officials say it could fall anytime between now and Monday, with the most likely chance being on April Fool's Day.

For the most recent updates on when Tiangong-1 is expected to crash into Earth, check the European Space Agency's website. There have been two manned missions to visit the space station, one in 2012 and another in 2013. Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, South America, and southern parts of Europe and Asia are all possible landfalls.

Connecticut, you may want to keep an eye on the sky. But the threat from the Hydrazine fuel is real, so it is best to stay clear of any debris falling from space over the next few days.

China was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station mainly due to USA legislation barring such cooperation and concerns over the Chinese space program's strong military connections.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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