BEIJING: A runaway space lab that will crash on Earth in the coming days is unlikely to cause any damage, according to the Chinese authorities, but will instead offer a "great" show that resembles a meteor shower. China Space Agency said on Thursday that the nearly eight-ton Tiangong-1 will return to the atmosphere sometime between Saturday and Monday. The European Space Agency has a smaller window between midday Saturday and GMT on early Sunday afternoon.
But there is "no need to worry," said the China Maned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) on its WeChat social media account.
Such falling spacecraft "do not bounce violently to Earth, as in science fiction movies, but turn into a magnificent (meteor shower) and move across the beautiful starry sky as they head toward Earth"] The lab became put into orbit in September 201
Beijing sees its multi-billion dollar space program as a symbol of the country's rise. It is planned to send a manned mission to the moon in the future.
China sent another laboratory into orbit, the Tiangong-2, in September 2016, hoping to turn it into a manned space station by 2022.
Experts are all worried that the Tiangong-1 could cause damage if it is thrown back to earth, and the ESA found that in the past 60 years, nearly 6,000 uncontrolled reentry of large objects has occurred without harming anyone ,
The probability of being hit by a meteorite of more than 200 g is one in 700 million.
During uncontrolled reentry, atmospheric resistance tears off solar panels, antennas, and other external components at a height of about 100 km
The increasing heat and friction will cause the main structure to burn or burst, and it should be at a height decay of about 80 km, it was said.
Most fragments will dissolve in the air dissolving small amount o f debris falling relatively slowly before landing, most likely in the ocean, which covers more than 70% of the Earth's surface.
Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, estimates that the Tiangong-1 is the 50th most massive uncontrolled reentry of an object since 1957.
"Much larger things have fallen without casualties," McDowell said towards AFP.
"This thing is like a small plane crash," he said. He added that the trail of debris is scattered several hundred kilometers apart.
At a height of 60-70 km debris will turn into "a series of fireballs" where people will see "spectacular" show it, "he said – AFP
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