China’s Tiangong-1 Space Station Set to Crash to Earth Sunday

COLUMBUS, MISS (WCBI) – Tiangong-1, China’s out-of-control space station is set to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday.

Saturday, the European Space Agency announced it’s targeting 6:25 PM CDT as the most likely time for re-entry.  However, it still remains a mystery exactly where it will fall over.

Another group, Aerospace Corp, predicts that Tiangong-1 will crash at 6:53 p.m. CDT, but there is still a chance the station could crash back to earth late Sunday Night into Monday.

Given its trajectory in space, the station could fall anywhere between 43° N and 43° S latitude.  That places much of North and South America, Africa, southern Asia and Australia in its cross-hairs.

According to Dr. Angelle Tanner, an Assistant Professor of Astrophysics at Mississippi State, this is a rather rare event.

“It’s pretty significant that an entire space station is falling back to earth.  The U.S. lost Space Lab a few decades ago, and the Russians ditched the Mir space station on purpose when they were done using it.  Things fall back earth all the time but this is a big piece, and I’m not sure the Chinese wanted it to fall back so soon,” Tanner said.

While the odds of it falling over us are rare, it still is a scenario worth considering.  Tanner says even if it falls over us, the odds of being hit by material are essentially zero.

“Experts have emphasized that there is nothing to worry about on the ground. But, if it does fall over us, you will see what appears to be a cluster of meteors streaking across the sky.”

It is expected that the station will burn up before reaching the ground.  But if pieces of it do happen to reach the earth, the odds of being struck are astronomically small.  And, if you were to find a piece of debris, stay away from it as it likely is hazardous and will be very hot.

Tiangong-1 was China’s first prototype space station.  Weighing 19,000 lbs, It was used as a part of their emerging space program both as a manned laboratory and as an advancement in their space capabilities.  Weighing 19,000 lbs, it is approximately the size of a small school bus.

In 2016, China announced they had lost control of the station, and speculation began that the station would eventually re-enter and burn up in our atmosphere.

You can track the latest projections of the Tiangong-1 re-entry at 

Track the path of the Tiangong-1 satellite here.

If you catch pictures and videos of Tiangong-1 falling, be sure to submit them to WCBI News.  You can always submit viewer pictures of anything you might see to, or to @WCBIweather on Facebook and Twitter.

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