The probability of expiring Chinese space station Tiangong-1 to crash onto the country is very small, national Space Agency (Angkasa) assured Malaysians today.

Angkasa director-general Noordin Ahmad sought to quell alarms following several media reports on the space station’s fall and said the probability of its debris hitting Malaysia was just 0.09 per cent, and a miniscule 0.0000699 per cent for capital Kuala Lumpur.

“Based on the notes of China to the United Nations, most of the components and structures from Tiangong-1 will burn up during friction with the atmosphere.

“The probability for the debris to cause destruction towards any terrestrial activity including flights is very low,” he said in a statement.

It was reported that the space station will fall off its orbit somewhere between October this year and April 2018, and Kuala Lumpur was listed as one of the possible crash sites.

Noordin said the area of probable crash site between the latitudes of 43° north and south is 347.9 million square km, while Malaysia’s area is only roughly 330,000 square km.


A diagram showing Tiangong-1’s orbit. — Picture courtesy of AngkasaA diagram showing Tiangong-1’s orbit. — Picture courtesy of Angkasa

Angkasa said the final estimate of the station’s crash site will be made public by the United Nations following an update from the Chinese space agency, CNSA.

Several other space agencies from the Europe, United States and Japan are also currently monitoring the altitude of Tiangong-1 daily, it said.

Tiangong-1 (‘Heavenly Palace 1’) was launched on September 2011, and is an 8.5-tonne ‘space-laboratory module’.

In March last year, China’s Space Engineering Office announced that the space station has ended its service, and in September this year CNSA said it had lost control of the station and it will deorbit.-MMO


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