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

‘Summer from hell’: vandals rob community garden following devastating wildfire season

The community rallied to keep the Health Minds Community Garden open in Fort St. James

College of New Caledonia offers new automotive glass technician program

The program is offered mainly online, allowing more students to take part from across the north

Decision on Burns Lake’s workforce camp “pending very soon”: Coastal GasLink

Meetings to discuss new camp location postponed due to wildfire situation

B.C. parents leery of HPV cervical cancer vaccine

Provincial registration uptake among lowest in Canada

Municipal spending outpaces population growth 4-fold in B.C.: report

Canadian Federation of Independent Business has released its annual operational spending report

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Most Read