Tiangong-1 space station expected to plummet to Earth this weekend

If you have been following the saga of the derelict Chinese space station Tiangong-1, an update pegs this weekend for the structure to plummet back to Earth and burn up on reentry. Last we spoke of the space station the prediction was that it would enter Earth's atmosphere on March 31 and the latest update maintains that approximate date.

The new range for reentry is between March 31 and April 1, which is Saturday or Sunday of this weekend. That time range is given by the ESA. China disagrees with the ESA with its space agency predicting reentry between April 1 and April 2, either Sunday or Monday. Scientists continue to tell people that there is a miniscule chance of being hit by debris from the space station.

The odds of being hit by the debris are as low as 1 in 1 trillion according to oddsmakers. The structure is expected to burn up on reentry to the atmosphere. Scientists are saying anyone in the path will see what appears to be a shower of meteors. Tiangong-1 launched in September 2011, but China said in March 2016 that the space station had ceased functioning.

China has never been clear on exactly why the space station stopped functioning. The space station has orbited unmanned since 2013 and there has been no contact with it since 2016. The space station is orbiting at a height of 122miles.

This isn't the first space station to fall to Earth. Back in 1979 NASA's first space station called Skylab made an out-of-control reentry and burned up in the atmosphere. Russia's Mir station reentered in 2001 making a controlled landing with most parts breaking up in the atmosphere. Reentry for the Tiangong-1 space station could happen over a massive swath of Earth spanning New York to Cape Town with no way to predict where that reentry might occur.