Chinese space station smashes to Earth at 17,000mph off the coast of Tahiti: Nine-ton installation the size of a bus comes crashing into the atmosphere in a huge fireball and just misses tropical paradise (11 Pics)

THIS is the moment an out-of-control Chinese space station streaked across the evening sky as it hurtled towards Earth at 17,000mph - narrowly missing a tourist hotspot as it plunged into the Pacific Ocean.
China's space agency said Tiangong-1 - the size of a double-decker bus - came to a fiery end off the coast of Tahiti in the early hours of this morning.
China's out of control Tiangong 1 space station smashed into Earth at 17,000mph off the coast of Tahiti on Monday morning and mostly disintegrated as it hit the planet's atmosphere 

The US military confirmed the re-entry with a statement from its Joint Force Space Component Command (JFSCC).
The European Space Agency had previously given a more precise estimate of 12:25am on Easter Monday but has stressed the time is "highly variable".
Around 10 per cent of the nine-tonne space craft is said to pose a slight risk to people on the ground. The rest is expected to burn up on re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
Based on the space station's orbit it was assumed it would tear through the Earth's atmosphere somewhere 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south - a range covering most of the US, China, Africa, Australia, South America and southern European.

China's defunct Tiangong 1 space station hurtled towards Earth and re-entered the atmosphere on Monday. It is pictured in an undated radar image

The UK was too far out of range to be hit.
The chances of anyone being struck by the debris stoodat less than one in a trillion.
Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics took to Twitter to predict the unmanned space craft would land somewhere between 11pm to 5am UK time (6pm to midnight ET).
The Tiangong-1 space craft is expected to tear across the sky - similar to that of a meteor shower - once it plummets into the Earth's atmosphere.
In the latest re-entry forecast from the ESA has been pushed back from Easter Sunday to Monday April, 2.
The expected time period is between 12.25am UK time and later on Monday morning but stressed that this is "highly variable".
The craft is about 120 miles from Earth, down from about 185 miles in January.

China Manned Space Engineering Office had initially predicted it would re-enter off the Brazilian coast in the South Atlantic near the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro 

Chinese authorities say it was unlikely the nine-tonne space station would have caused any damage.
Holger Krag, head of the European Space Agency said: "If you're in the right place at the right times, and the sky is clear, it will be quite spectacular.
The ESA is currently predicting a narrower window of tonight to late Sunday evening.
"It will be visible to the naked eye, even in daylight, and looked like a slow-moving shooting star that splits into a few more shooting stars. You might even see a smoke trial."

The 34 x 11ft space craft - about the size of a school bus - was launched back in 2011, but has since lost connection with China's space agency and is now falling out of orbit.
The space craft's descent is currently being tracked by Aerospace engineering and the ESA - and say it is currently dropping out of orbit by about 2.5 miles a day.
Zhu Congpeng, from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporate said: "We have been continuously monitoring Tiangong-1 and expect to allow it to fall within the first half of this year."

This is an artist's impression of the Tiangong 1 space station bursting into a series of fireballs at it re-enters the earth's atmosphere

"It will burn up on entering the atmosphere and the remaining wreckage will fall into a designated area of the sea, without endangering the surface."
The odds of being struck by a space debris are one in 1.2trillion.
Tiangong-1, which means 'heavenly palace' in Chinese, is carrying a highly toxic chemical called hydrazine.
The material is used as rocket fuel, but exposure to humans is believed to cause symptoms like nausea and seizures, with long-term contact said to cause cancer.

This image from Flight Aware shows that there were very little commercial flights in the area around the time the space station re-entered the earth's atmosphere

Visitors sit beside a model of China's Tiangong-1 space station in 2010. The station played host to two crewed missions and served as a test platform for perfecting docking procedures and other operations

The Tiangong-1 space lab (pictured in an undated image taken before ground crews lost control of it) made a fiery plunge back to Earth on Monday

Technicians at the Jiuquan Space Centre monitor the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft as it prepares to link with Tiangong-1 in 2012

'Point Nemo' is a watery graveyard for titanium fuel tanks and other high-tech space debris

Big dreams of space: A 3D model of the Chinese space station Tiangong orbiting the planet Earth

A statement from the non-profit Aerospace Corporation explains: "When considering the worst-case location, the probability that a specific person will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot."
"In the history of spaceflight, no known person has ever been harmed by re-entering space debris."
"Only one person has ever been recorded as being hit by a piece of space debris and, fortunately, she was not injured."
The ESA's Holger Krag told Newsweek: "Owing to the geometry of the station's orbit, we can already exclude the possibility that any fragments will fall over any spot further north than 43°N or further south than 43°S."
"This means that re-entry may take place over any spot on Earth between these latitudes, which includes several European countries, for example."
"The date, time and geographic footprint of the re-entry can only be predicted with large uncertainties."
"Even shortly before re-entry, only a very large time and geographical window can be estimated."

Chinese space station smashes to Earth at 17,000mph off the coast of Tahiti: Nine-ton installation the size of a bus comes crashing into the atmosphere in a huge fireball and just misses tropical paradise (11 Pics) Chinese space station smashes to Earth at 17,000mph off the coast of Tahiti: Nine-ton installation the size of a bus comes crashing into the atmosphere in a huge fireball and just misses tropical paradise (11 Pics) Reviewed by Your Destination on April 02, 2018 Rating: 5

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