China says Tiangong 1 space station to re-enter Earth's atmosphere on Monday

The Aerospace Corporation said that it predicts Tiangong 1 will enter the atmosphere around 9 p.m. ET (2 a.m. UTC).

You can also follow ESA's Twitter account for the latest updates on estimated time and location of the space station's reentry.

Tiangong-1, colloquially known as "Heavenly Palace", was launched as China's first prototype space station serving as both a manned space laboratory and an experimental vehicle to demonstrate orbital docking capabilities.

The space station is not likely to affect aviation activities, the report added. Besides that, there's a very slight chance falling debris could land in your area. Areas of yellow indicate the areas with the highest probability, which includes the entire state of Pennsylvania and states in the northern tier of the U.S.

China has never been clear on exactly why the space station stopped functioning.

ESA took a pass on declaring a specific time, saying instead it expects Tiangong-1 to reenter between early morning PT Saturday and Sunday Morning.

Officials say it poses only a slight risk to people on the ground since most of the bus-size vehicle is expected to burn up on re-entry. On March 23rd, 2001 the Mir space station re-entered the atmosphere weighing 120,000 kg (264,500 pounds).

Markus Dolensky, technical director of the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research in Australia, said witnesses to the Tiangong-1 descent should see "series of fireballs" streaking across the sky - provided there were no clouds. Some debris could hit earth, but where it lands is anyone's guess.

The site Aerospace explains that the odds of being struck by Antigone-1 debris is "one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot".

The possible area of impact will not be outside 43 degrees North or South of the Equator, and although the report states that almost 5.2 billion people live inside the impact area, most of it is the only ocean.

It could contain a compound called hydrazine, which is highly toxic.

  • Carolyn Briggs