Chinese space station set to crash-land on Earth's surface within months

Chinese space station set to crash-land on Earth's surface within months

While the International Space Station typically gets all the headlines for its scientific achievements, the Chinese space agency's Tiangong-1, otherwise known as "Heavenly Palace", is sharing the limelight but for the wrong reasons.

It was used for both manned and unmanned missions and visited by China's first female astronaut, Liu Yang, in 2012.

The Chinese space station Tiangong-1 has been hurtling out of control on a slow fall back to Earth for more than a year now, but it's time for people to start looking up.

Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell said it would be impossible to predict where it would hit - even in the hours before impact.

'I expect it will come down a few months from now - late 2017 or early 2018'.

The chance that anyone will be harmed by the debris is considered remote but China told the United Nations "Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space" in May that it would carefully monitor the craft's descent and inform the United Nations when it begins its final plunge. Over past few weeks, station has increased its speed to Earth, reaching more intense layers of atmosphere.

Speaking with The Guardian past year, astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell said: "You really can't steer these things".

"Not knowing when it's going to come down translates as not knowing where it's going to come down", he says, adding that almost negligible alterations in atmospheric condition can change the landing location from "one continent to the next". He also said that a slight change in the atmosphere can change the course of the space station and make it land on a totally different continent altogether.

You'll want to keep an eye out for a massive 8.5 tonne space station that is falling down to Earth. However, in 2016, Chinese officials confirmed the news that they had lost control of the space station and it was expected to crash on Earth in 2017 or 2018.