The Space Debris Room of the European Space Agency ESA in Darmstadt, Germany. (AP Photo/Christoph Noelting)

Defunct Chinese space lab set to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere

Only about 10 per cent of the spacecraft will likely survive

China’s defunct Tiangong 1 space station hurtled toward Earth on Sunday and was expected to re-enter the atmosphere within hours.

Most of the craft should burn up on re-entry, so scientists said it poses only a slight risk to people on the ground.

The European Space Agency forecast that the station, whose name translates as “Heavenly Palace,” will re-enter sometime between Sunday night and early Monday GMT. The Chinese space agency said it should happen during the course of Monday Beijing time.

READ MORE: China’s defunct space lab speeds toward Earth for re-entry

The Aerospace Corp. predicted Tiangong 1’s re-entry would take place within 2 1/2 hours of either side of 0010 GMT Monday (8:10 p.m. Sunday EDT.)

Based on the space station’s orbit, it will come back to Earth somewhere 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south, a range covering most of the United States, China, Africa, southern Europe, Australia and South America. Out of range are Russia, Canada and northern Europe.

Only about 10 per cent of the bus-sized, 8.5-ton spacecraft will likely survive being burned up on re-entry, mainly its heavier components such as its engines. The chances of any one person being hit by debris are considered less than one in a trillion.

Launched in 2011, Tiangong 1 was China’s first space station, serving as an experimental platform for bigger projects, such as the Tiangong 2 launched in September 2016 and a future permanent Chinese space station.

The station played host to two crewed missions and served as a test platform for perfecting docking procedures and other operations. Its last crew departed in 2013 and contact with it was cut in 2016.

Since then it has been orbiting gradually closer and closer to Earth on its own while being monitored.

Western space experts say they believe China has lost control of the station. China’s chief space laboratory designer Zhu Zongpeng has denied Tiangong was out of control, but hasn’t provided specifics on what, if anything, China is doing to guide the craft’s re-entry.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

New MRI unit to increase access

Elk Valley patients currently face a 43-week wait for an MRI exam.

CrossFit Fernie to host second Festivus games

It will be survival of the fittest when CrossFit Fernie hosts its second Festivus games on Saturday.

Deboon retires from conservation service

After nearly 30 years of service as a conservation officer in the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Highway 3A reopened after mudslide cleared

A mudslide closed Highway 3A between Castlegar and Nelson just north of the Brilliant Dam on Wednesday.

Gallery: Fernie Alpine Resort closing weekend

Our best photos from the Powder, Pedal, Paddle relay race, Fernival and Slope Soaker.

Could facial scans and fingerprints make you unhackable?

New biometrics capabilities could be a game-changer for those trying to get on your accounts

New funds, recruits set to alleviate B.C. sheriff shortage

The Government of British Columbia announced new sheriff graduates, funding for more classes

Video: RCMP investigation gets a deer little photobomb

Princeton RCMP were conducting a drug investigation in Princeton which a deer strolled through

Farnworth says five years too long for feds to deal with organized crime in medical pot

Needs to be dealt with much sooner than that, B.C. Public Safety Minister says

Unions set for national strike against CP Rail

Locomotive engineers, conductors and signals specialists seeking new collective agreements.

B.C. woman known to hitchhike around province missing

Aislynn Hanson, 18, last seen April 13; known to travel throughout B.C. by hitchhiking

B.C. court relies on Facebook to track down missing defendant

A court in Princeton, B.C. relied on Facebook to track down a B.C. missing his court date

Cops corral pig on the loose on Vancouver Island

Police “put the grab” on pig before it can cross the highway on Vancouver Island

Accused in B.C. school stabbing found unfit to stand trial

Decision will put hold on upcoming trial for Gabriel Klein

Most Read