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Out-Of-Control Space Station About To Come Crashing Back To Earth
NZ in path of China's wayward space station (CCSS Level: Grade 9, Words: 350)
Mar 7, 2018 Science & Technology

China's prototype space station, Tiangong-1 is hurtling towards Earth carrying a "highly toxic chemical" and will likely hit sometime between March 24 and April 19.

Agencies around the world have been monitoring the doomed 8.5-tonne craft, which is believed to contain dangerous hydrazine, as it falls toward the planet. However, it will only be during the final week that experts will know with full confidence when it would land and where the debris is likely to fall.

According to Aerospace, a research organisation that advises government and private enterprise on space flight, the station will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere in the first week of April.

Knowing where the station will burn up is even trickier. The Chinese space laboratory circles the Earth many times per day, and it could fall anywhere between latitudes of 43° north and 43° south. The chances of re-entry are slightly higher in northern states of the US, central Italy, northern Spain, Northern China, New Zealand, the Middle East and parts of South Africa.

"Every couple of years something like this happens, but Tiangong-1 is big and dense so we need to keep an eye on it," Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist from Harvard University told the Guardian. Most of it will burn up during re-entry, but around 10 to 40 percent of the satellite is expected to survive as debris, and some parts may contain dangerous hydrazine.

Tiangong-1 was launched by China in September 2011. The orbiting laboratory and experimental space station was used multiple times to test spacecraft docking hardware and capabilities. Chinese astronauts visited Tiangong-1 twice in Shenzhou spacecraft in 2012 and 2013. The country's space program has since launched another space laboratory, Tiangong-2, in preparation for a larger space station that China hopes to complete in the 2020s.

While it is unlikely debris will land on a populated area, if you want to check on Tiangong-1 from moment to moment, you can use any number of live tracking sites, like

Meanwhile, be sure to keep one eye on the sky in the coming weeks.

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the ways in which someone has a skill or talent



as said by



in addition to



a person trained to travel in a spacecraft



the gas around the earth or a planet; the mood or feeling of a place



powers or abilities



to finish, end 



believing in, or having faith in something or someone



something likely to cause harm or injury



likely to cause harm or injury, not safe



scattered fragments, typically of something wrecked or destroyed



something seen as likely to happen



something a scientist does to test an idea



persons with great skill in some area



the ruling body of a nation, state or community


one of the positions a player takes in a basketball game



a location equipped for scientific experiments






to send or shoot a rocket into outer space / to get moving



to do with the mind



the path around a planet or star



moving in orbit around (a star, planet, or moon)



doing things to get ready for an event



looking for knowledge



an object in space going round the Earth to collect information



a ship that flies in space



live, especially after illness or injury