Chinese space station unlikely to crash on Malaysian soil

A model of the Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft ( right) docking with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module (left). — Reuters file pic
A model of the Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft ( right) docking with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module (left). — Reuters file pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 — The possibility of China’s Tiangong-1 Space Station falling in Malaysia is very low, according to the National Space Agency (ANGKASA).

Its director-general, Dr Noordin Ahmad said considering the country’s total area of 329 960.22 sq km , the probability of the debris hitting Malaysia is 0.09 per cent and the probability of hitting Kuala Lumpur which has an area of 243.65 sq km, is 0.0000699 per cent.

“Based on the calculations, the area encompassing 43 degrees north to 43 degrees south, involves many other countries besides Malaysia, which is approximately 347 860 000 sq km. Other than Malaysia, especially Kuala Lumpur, this area also includes Singapore (1.35 degrees north), Sydney, Australia (33.86 degrees south), Florida, US (27.66 degrees north) and Beijing, China (39.90 degrees north),” he said in a statement today.

On Sept 14, China Manned Space Engineering (CMSE) assistant director Wu Ping announced that the space station, which was launched on Sept 29, 2011, would fall into the atmosphere at the end of the year, after a six-year mission.

Noordin said based on China’s notice to the United Nations, most of the components and structures of Tiangong-1 would be burned and destroyed when coming into contact with the earth’s atmosphere, and the probability of the debris affecting activities on earth, including flights, were very low.

China also informed it would increase monitoring and prediction activities, and the ‘re-entry’ forecast would also be published.

Further information would also be obtained from the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee, and the orbital status and any related information would be posted on the website

China would communicate the final forecast of where and when the Tiangong-1 would crash, to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the UN Secretary-General.

“The de-orbiting of the Tiangong-1 Space station is being observed and monitored closely by various space agencies such as ESA, NASA, JAXA and CNSA. ANGKASA, which has close links with these agencies, is also constantly monitoring these developments.

Noordin said during the expected period of the crash, ANGKASA would monitor Tiangong-1’s altitude on a daily basis and make public announcements if required. — Bernama

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