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The last days of the Chinese Tiangong 1 space station

(Flickr/Oleksii Leonov)

The world is getting ready for the final orbital act of the Chinese space station, the Tiangong 1.

Since 2011, the Tiangong 1, which is the size of a small bus, has been orbiting the Earth once every 90 minutes, being the host of a few visiting astronauts.

The purpose of this small space station was to place Chinese astronauts, or “taikonauts,” into low orbit to determine how to live in space.

This first-generation spacecraft with an area of some 520 cubic feet of living space is rapidly falling from a once stable orbit and should make its way to a final fiery reentry between March 30 and April 2.

The problem is no one knows for sure exactly when and where it will finally hit.

There are many populated locations on the globe that the space station could impact in pieces, which range from +43 degrees latitude to –43 degrees latitude on the globe.

Space experts agree that some residual pieces of Tiangong 1, as large as 200 pounds, could survive reentry and be laden with hydrazine rocket fuel to make this a potentially dangerous situation for the public.

Most spacecraft are targeted to reenter over a large area of the South Pacific ocean, a true spacecraft grave yard, known as Point Nemo, an area of the ocean that is farthest from any land mass.

The problem with the Tiangong 1 is that it has been out of telemetry control, for a year or more and thus, there is no reliable way to steer the craft to reentry.

Space experts say that there is a one in 1 trillion chance that you could be hit by debris from Tiangong 1.

The space station weighs a little over 18,000 pounds and is 34 feet long and 11 feet wide.

Some are now saying that the last orbit of Tiangong 1 may take it over the state of Wisconsin and Michigan, but it is still way too early to determine the exact path of reentry until we get closer to the weekend.

Here are the best sites to get you to follow this historic event and know more about when and where is spacecraft will come down.

Track the Tiangong 1 in real time here or here.

Closer to home, here is a link to your March 2018 star chart.


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