OUT OF CONTROLChina’s Tiangong-1 space station could crash into Europe within WEEKSCHINA’S Tiangong-1 space station is expected to crash into earth in just a few weeks, according to experts.The out-of-control spacecraft launched back in 2011, but has since lost connection with China’s space agency and is now falling out of orbit.

OUT OF CONTROL

China’s Tiangong-1 space station could crash into Europe within WEEKS with ‘toxic’ chemical on board

Experts say several European countries are at risk of an over-land impact as the rogue spacecraft starts to fall from orbit

CHINA'S Tiangong-1 space station is expected to crash into earth in just a few weeks, according to experts.

The out-of-control spacecraft launched back in 2011, but has since lost connection with China's space agency and is now falling out of orbit.

 The Tiangong-1 space station was originally expected to crash in late 2017

CMSE
The Tiangong-1 space station was originally expected to crash in late 2017

Experts currently predict that the space station will fall somewhere over Europe, and could even hit land.

The European Space Agency is issuing regular updates about Tiangong-1's descent to earth, with the latest saying a crash is likely to happen very soon.

"The current estimated window is 17 March to 21 April; this is highly variable."

"Re-entry will take place anywhere between 43ºN and 43ºS (e.g. Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, etc.)."

 Current estimates put the expected crash site as potentially somewhere in Europe

ESA–D. Ducros
Current estimates put the expected crash site as potentially somewhere in Europe
 This graphic shows possible crash locations

This graphic shows possible crash locations

The ESA adds that it will never be able go give a "precise time/location prediction" for the crash, but says that areas outside of the above latitudes "can be excluded".

Despite a consensus from experts around the world, China hasn't actually admitted that the spacecraft's descent is uncontrolled.

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 Tiangong-1 station carries toxic material, but experts say it's unlikely anyone will be hit

AFP
The Tiangong-1 station carries toxic material, but experts say it's unlikely anyone will be hit

NASA video from 2015 shows astronaut spacewalk on the International Space Station

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."

 The crash is now likely to happen in late March or early April

Getty – Contributor
The crash is now likely to happen in late March or early April

"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."

The ESA's Holger Krag told Newsweek: "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 43°N or further south than 43°S."

"This means that re-entry may take place over any spot on Earth between these latitudes, which includes several European countries, for example."

"The date, time and geographic footprint of the re-entry can only be predicted with large uncertainties."

"Even shortly before re-entry, only a very large time and geographical window can be estimated."