Map says Chinese space station headed for NZ, but experts unconvinced

  • 23/03/2018
One of the maps on the site.
One of the maps on the site. Photo credit:

An expert has quashed claims a toxic Chinese space station will hit New Zealand, after a website predicted it would re-enter orbit here.

An interactive map on the website allows users to track the Tiangong-1 in real time and is currently predicting a re-entry at 9am on April 3 in the skies above New Zealand.

Other maps on the site are said to be powered by the United States Strategic Command and also say the station will re-enter above NZ.

Stardome's Josh Kirkley says while New Zealand does sit in the area the space station could hit it's extremely difficult to say the precise date and location where it would fall.

"It's extremely hard to predict where and where the station will fall over Earth," he told Newshub.

"It's likely to fall within 43 degrees north or south (which includes NZ) over Easter weekend, but no one is sure of the exact time and day."

Yellow shows the areas most likely to be hit.
Yellow shows the areas most likely to be hit. Photo credit: Aerospace Corporation

According to Mr Kirkley there is an example of this happening the past, but it fell far away from where was predicted.

"Something of this magnitude similarly happened back in 1979, when a decommissioned American space station called Skylab burnt up in the atmosphere," he said.

"It was calculated that it would completely burn up over off the coast of South Africa, but it did not disintegrate as they had expected and it landed over western Australia...

"It goes to show however, that even NASA could not predict where Skylab would fall, so we won't know where the Tiangong-1 station will land, if it even survives burning up in our atmosphere."

The 8.5 tonne Tiangong-1 has been on a collision course with earth since March 21, its path means it could hit many heavily populated cities including Toronto, Toulouse, Sapporo, Milwaukee and Trelew in Argentina.

The station is carrying a "highly toxic" corrosive chemical on board and could potentially affect hundreds of kilometres with poisonous debris.