BREAKING NEWS: Chinese space station smashes to Earth at 17,000mph off the coast of Tahiti: Nine-ton installation the size of a bus comes crashing into the atmosphere in a huge fireball and just misses tropical paradise

Sunday, April 1, 2018
By Paul Martin

The defunct Chinese space station Tiangong-1 re-entered the atmosphere over the South Pacific on Monday
Craft re-entered the atmosphere around 8.15am Beijing time and ‘vast majority’ had burnt up upon re-entry
Chinese space authorities had predicted to would re-enter off the Brazilian coast in the South Atlantic
It was hard for authorities to predict exactly where it would crash
The chances of any one person being hit by its debris are considered to be less than one in a trillion

By TIM STICKINGS
DailyMail.com
1 April 2018

Chinese space authorities say its defunct Tiangong 1 space station re-entered the earth’s atmosphere and burnt up over the middle of the South Pacific on Monday.

The craft re-entered the atmosphere around 8.15am Beijing time (0015GMT) and the ‘vast majority’ of it had burnt up upon re-entry.

It had said shortly before that it was expected to re-enter off the Brazilian coast in the South Atlantic near the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

China’s space authority said on Sunday that the station would hit speeds of nearly 17,000mph before disintegrating. They previously said its fiery disintegration would offer a ‘splendid’ show akin to a meteor shower.

The space lab will mostly be burnt up in the atmosphere and it’s highly unlikely to cause any damage on the ground, authorities say.

The Aerospace Corporation had earlier predicted Tiangong 1’s re-entry would take place within two hours either side of 1.30am BST on Monday (8.30pm on Sunday in New York and 10.30am on Monday in Sydney).

Based on the space station’s orbit, it could have come back to Earth somewhere 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south, a range covering most of the United States, China, Africa, southern Europe, Australia and South America.

Astronomer Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said on Twitter: ‘Remember: 1) this thing will reenter spectacularly but it will (almost super certainly) not hurt anyone. 2) We may not know that it’s come down until an hour or so after it actually has done.’

The chances of any one person being hit by debris are considered less than one in a trillion by the Aerospace Corporation.

Meterologist Bryan Bennett said: ‘When it reaches 65 miles above the Earth it will no longer be able to orbit and will begin its rapid re-entry. Atmospheric breakup will begin when it reaches 50 miles above the Earth and undergo a fiery reentry until about 30 miles.’

Only about 10 per cent of the bus-sized, 8.5-ton spacecraft will likely survive being burned up on re-entry, mainly its heavier components such as its engines.

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