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Chinese Tiangong-1 space lab falling to Earth: What to expect

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Roque spacecraft expected to reenter the earth’s atmosphere

A Chinese space station lost contact with the Tiangong-1, a craft that is expected again in the atmosphere of the earth somewhere in the beginning of 2018. Some are concerned dirt can hit populated areas.

No, this is not a joke. China’s runaway space lab, Tiangong-1, is set to fall to Earth somewhere on a Saturday or a Sunday, that is April Fool’s Day.

In an update posted on March 28, the European Space Agency (ESA) said that it expects that the current estimated return window runs from “from the morning of March 31 to the afternoon of April 1st (in UTC time); this is very variable.”

The Virtual Telescope Project also has a live, real-time look at the space lab makes the descent to the Earth.

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“The Tiangong-1 Chinese space station re-entering our atmosphere quickly,” representatives for the project, writes in a statement obtained by Space.com. “The Virtual Telescope Project and Tenagra Observatories offer you the unique chance to see it during one of his last passages in the air. You can contact us online, via the internet, from the comfort of your home.”

In a message on its website, Holger Krag, Head of ESA’s Space Debris Office, said that the vehicle can fall on a large part of the world, encompassing much of North America and most of South America.

“Thanks to the geometry of the orbit of the space station, we can already exclude the possibility that debris will fall on any place further north than 43ºN, or further to the south than 43ºS,” Krag said.

“This means that the return can take place over a spot on Earth between these regions, in which several European countries, for example,” Krag added. Tiangong-1 can also re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere over Africa, Asia, most of Australia and part of New Zealand.

Reuters, citing statements by the ESA, reports, that the chance that someone hit by a piece debris from the Tiangong-1 is 10 million times smaller than the chance that you get hit by a bolt of lightning. This is due to the fact that approximately 71% of the Earth is covered with water.

Tiangong-1 is responding to China ‘ s commands to 2016, according to Space.com. Scientists have since expected the space station back to Earth as a kind of man-made ‘meteorite’, but not sure where the country.

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In the past few months, scientists have had a better approximation of the location of the station is the country. According to the Washington Post, they’ve warned that Spain, Portugal, France and Greece see the 19,000 pound meteorite fall within their boundaries.

Scientists say that the Tiangong-1 is currently spinning around the Earth at 17,500 mph, which equates to a trip around the planet every 90 minutes. If the drive drops closer to the Earth and gains strength, the thicker the air will cause friction around the craft in a hot plasma, the Post reported.

Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report. Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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