Chinese space lab expected to re-enter on Sunday night

Scientists look at the screen showing the Shenzhou X manned spacecraft docking with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space module at Beijing Aerospace Control Center

According to the latest predictions, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will most likely fall to Earth in a fiery blaze around 8:18 p.m. ET, give or take two hours.

Most of the space debris will burn up on re-entry.

The European Space Agency estimated earlier that the craft will arrive after 12.25am on Monday, but the agency has stressed that the time is "highly variable".

The Paris-based agency, which is managing the global campaign to follow the laboratory's fall, said on Saturday that the time and place of its re-entry continues to be a "highly variable" prediction affected by the changing solar activity, reports Efe news.

The chances of anyone being struck by the debris stands at less than one in a trillion.

The space lab, its name translating to "Heavenly Palace", was launched in September 2011 as a prototype for China's ultimate space goal: a permanent space station is expected to launch around 2022.

Tiangong-1 plummeted into the middle of the South Pacific, the space agency said.

Tiangong-1 mostly burnt up upon reentry into the Earth's atmosphere.

Although the incident has been embarrassing for China's space program, it hasn't delayed its progress.

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The Chinese space lab Tiangong-1 is expected to fall back to Earth within the next 24 hours, putting an end to the almost 19,000-pound, out-of-control space craft.

Ren Guoqiang, China's defense ministry spokesman, told reporters Thursday that Beijing has been briefing the United Nations and the worldwide community about Tiangong 1′s re-entry through multiple channels.

People on the ground only face minimal risks, scientists warned, because just 10% of the bus-size station is expected to survive the burning re-entry process.

Most famously, America's 77-ton Skylab crashed through the atmosphere in 1979, spreading pieces of wreckage near the southwestern Australia city of Perth, which fined the US $400 for littering.

The space station has been slowing down and when it can't go fast enough to stay in orbit, it will reenter the earth's atmosphere.

Earlier, scientists had expected that weather from the sun like solar storms and solar flares - bursts of X-rays and ultraviolet light - might heat the Earth's outer atmosphere, causing the air to expand and rise.

China inexplicably lost contact with Tiangong 1 in 2016, three years after crews abandoned the lab.

"It's pretty significant that an entire space station is falling back to earth". Since then it has been orbiting gradually closer and closer to Earth on its own while being monitored. It has been visited by two crewed missions.

China has predicted most of its debris will fall in the ocean as it breaks up on descent. China also plans to become the first country to soft-land a probe on the far side of the moon.

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