Credit: The Aerospace Corporation/CORDS


Round and round it goes – when and where it stops nobody knows.

China’s Tiangong – 1 space lab is in its last laps around Earth.

Credit: The Aerospace Corporation/CORDS




The latest reentry forecast provided by European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office in Darmstadt, Germany has issued a March 31 update.

The space debris team at ESA has adapted their reentry forecast over the last 24 hours “to take into consideration the conditions of low solar activity. New data received overnight gave further confirmation that the forecast window is moving to later on 1 April,” the ESA office explains.

Map showing the area between 42.8 degrees North and 42.8 degrees South latitude (in green), over which Tiangong-1 could reenter. Graph at left shows population density.
Credit: ESA CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

The team now are forecasting a window centered around 23:25 UTC on April 1 (01:25 CEST 2 April), and running from the afternoon of April 1 to the early morning on April 2. This remains highly variable.

Similarly, The Aerospace Corporation’s Tiangong-1 is currently predicted to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere around April 1st, 2018 20:30 UTC ± 8 hours.

This prediction was performed March 31 by The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies (CORDS).

China to UN

In a “Note verbale” dated March 16, 2018 from the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations (Vienna), it says “on the basis of further calculation and review, most structural parts of Tiangong-1 will burn up on re-entry. The probability of damage to aviation activities and human life and facilities on Earth is extremely low.”

Credit: The Aerospace Corporation/CORDS

Overhead pass-time

Meanwhile, sky watchers are reporting observations of the doomed Chinese spacecraft.

Thomas Dorman is a satellite tracker from Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He has been documenting flyovers of the spacecraft using telescopes, binoculars, video and still cameras, a DVD recorder, a computer and other gear since the space lab’s launch back in September 2011.

“I was able to spot Tiangong-1 this morning,” he advised Inside Outer Space. The vehicle was caught on video, he added, under poor conditions of high clouds and wind.

Dorman reports: “It was zipping right along! No ablation observed!” Caught on video, the station was around 14 seconds early based on orbit prediction data. The bright star also observed is Polaris.

To view his video, used with permission, go to:


BTW: Dorman was early in flagging the fall of Tiangong-1.

Go to my June 10, 2016 story:

When Will China’s ‘Heavenly Palace’ Space Lab Fall Back to Earth?

To keep your own eye on the reentry of Tiangong-1, one popular and easy-to-use website:

Also, go to this informative video by China’s CGTN:

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