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November 23, Thursday 2017 12:44 PM       

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       Chinese space station that is out of orbit could hit Kerala
 
         Posted on :11:51:50 Nov 11, 2017
   
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       Last edited on:14:40:51 Nov 11, 2017
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BEIGING: The European Space Agency is tracking an old Chinese space station that is falling out of orbit amid fears that the debris could strike Kerala.

The Tiangong-1, which is at an altitude of 300km, is projected to make an uncontrolled re-entry in early 2018, anywhere between 43 degrees north or south of the equator.

China claims that the 8.5-tonne craft, which was launched in September 2011, poses no danger and will burn up in the atmosphere.

Some experts believe that substantial remains of the craft could survive re-entry and hit Earth early next year. The European Space Agency is joining an international effort to monitor the spacecraft.

Space debris has struck Earth before, most famously when the first US space station, the eight-tonne Skylab, fell in 1979. Not as much of it burnt up as Nasa expected and it left a debris trail in Western Australia. A nuclear-powered Russian satellite fell in 1977, scattering radioactive remains over northern Canada.

Britain is north of the latitudes in which the Chinese debris is projected to fall but several cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Beijing, Rome, Sydney, Bangkok and Rio de Janeiro, are in range. Most of the area between those latitudes is water.

Tiangong-1 ceased data transmission in March last year and has been falling back towards Earth since then.

It is unclear how much of the spacecraft would break up in the fiery fall but a Harvard astronomer, Jonathan McDowell, has estimated the debris could weigh as much as 100kg. The chances of a strike on a populated area are small.

Wu Ping, of China Manned Space, said that China would issue warnings when necessary but that the majority of the craft would burn up.

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