The Tiangong-1 was the first ever space station launched by the Chinese. They eventually lost connection in 2016. Joe Altieri is part of the astronomy club in Rochester and knows all good things come to an end.
“They all have a shelf life,” said Altieri. “They can only stay up for so long. Most of them have a controlled entry.” This one will not.
The timing of impact on earth is unexpected. Solar flares change how close or far apart atoms in the atmosphere end up and that will vary friction on the object. This will also create uncertainty in location, says Dr Don Figer at RIT. “Most of the United States, and most of civilization I guess, but like I said it’s mostly over ocean,” said Figer.
Most of the space station will burn up in the atmosphere, but flames may be visible. “Most of the burning ends at about ten miles up, and things just start to fall ballistically wherever they’re aiming,” said Figer.
Look south on Friday around 6:15 a.m. as well as Saturday at around 5:45 a.m. There is about one in a trillion chance of getting hit by any debris, which is basically zero.