Dinner Table Conversation: What Would You Do If a Space Station Was Headed for Earth?

April 7, 2018

Update: It really did crash! A mostly broken-up space station, the Tiangong-1, crashed somewhere in the South Pacific on April 2nd, 2018. Since January, scientists have been tracking the defunct space station to see exactly where it will land. Read more on this space station below.


Possibly—but don’t go screaming and ducking for cover, because the likelihood of pieces of a space station falling from the sky and actually causing any damage on Earth is one in a trillion. But it’s still possible, and that’s what space experts say might happen with China’s space station Tiangong-1, or “Heavenly Palace.”

Tiangong-1 was launched in 2011 as a prototype for China’s ultimate goal of building a permanent space station that would be launched into space in 2022. Although Tiangong-1 was supposed to retire two years after it was launched, China decided to keep it around in case their second prototype, Tiangong-2, didn’t make it to orbit successfully. In March of 2016, China reported that Tiangong-1 had stopped functioning. Although there have been mixed responses as to whether China’s space agency has control over Tiangong-1’s ultimate demise, what is known is that it’s most likely happening sometime in March. Although there is that one in a trillion chance of some of its parts falling down on Earth, what’s most likely going to happen is that Tiangong-1 will burn up upon re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Not to worry though—space experts are keeping a close eye on Tiangong-1.

via @NASA