Space station the size of a bus to fall from the sky

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The Chinese space station Tiangong-1 is now hurtling toward the Planet Earth and it is expected that the uncontrolled and falling space station will enter into Earth's atmosphere near around 20 March to 2 April.

It was launched by China's National Space Administration (CNSA) in 2011 as a prototype ahead of the Chinese large modular space station, the core module of which is expected to launch next year.

Tiangong-1 was traveling at about 18,000 mph (29,000 km/h) in an orbit almost 168 miles (270 kilometers) above Earth when the radar images were acquired, according to Fraunhofer FHR. In July 1979, for example, NASA's 85-ton Skylab space station burned up over the Indian Ocean and Western Australia.

"This is a space craft that's big enough that at least some pieces will probably survive the reentry and hit the ground somewhere", said Bill Hardwood of CBS Space News.

Also known by its English translation, "Heavenly Palace", the out-of-control station is heading back into the atmosphere sometime around April 1. Blue areas have zero probability of debris reentry since Tiangong-1 does not fly over these areas (north of 42.7° N latitude or south of 42.7° S latitude). The powerful radar is now being used by the German Space Situational Awareness Center and European Space Agency (ESA).

Tiangong-1's potential re-entry areas.

     BLAST OFF A Long March 2FT1 rocket carrying Tiangong-1
GETTY BLAST OFF A Long March 2FT1 rocket carrying Tiangong-1

If it doesn't burn up in a fireball, it's due to hit Earth over Easter. In 2016, China lost control of the station, making it impossible to pinpoint the exact date of re-entry or location of landing until it dropped lower in its orbit.

However, even with this new sophisticated technology, it remains hard to estimate the debris' final landing place with a high degree of accuracy, so the exact moment of the Tiangong-1's descent will only be determined just a few hours before.

The ASI is one of 13 global space agencies monitoring the satellite as it approaches earth for an uncontrolled crash landing.

Experts say the chances are very unlikely that one or two individuals could be hit by debris from the space.

The satellite flies over Italy between three and four times a day for around three minutes at a time, Paolo Volpini of the Italian Amateur Astronomers Union (UAI) told Ansa. Much if not all of the debris is likely to fall into the sea.

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