Could Debris From Falling Chinese Space Station Hit Maine?
For days on the internet, I've been tracking the story about the broken down Chinese Space Station, Tiangong-1, that is supposed to re-enter Earth's atmosphere. I'm an old Star Trek softy from way back, so the idea of space debris hurtling toward the surface of the planet at thousands of miles per hour, scares and fascinates me simultaneously.
After spending far more time than I care to admit, comparing debris paths from a bunch of different sources, the short answer is, no. We're in no immediate danger. But as every article I read was quick to point out, no one knows 100% sure where this Chinese space junk is going to land.
It's widely accepted that most, if not all, the pieces will burn up upon re-entry. And it looks as though that if the East Coast sees any fallout, it's likely to be around New Jersey. My first thought was, "meh". I could think of worse places for it to happen to. Ha! I'm kidding of course. Well, kinda. Oregon has also been listed as a potential target as well, and spots in the ocean, and across Europe. It all depends on gravity doing it's job when the time comes.
According to this article, even in the hottest spots for damage potential, you stand more of a chance of winning the Powerball, than being hit by a space chunk. There's only one person known to have ever been hit with space junk. Her name is Lottie Williams of Tulsa, OK. She was hit by a piece from a Delta-II rocket that mostly burned up during re-entry in 1997. She was completely unharmed.
Just the same, this weekend keep your eyes on the sky. If you hear a high pitched whistling sound that resembles whatever imminent danger and bodily harm sounds like, run away. And if you get hit, find a good international lawyer so you can sue the living daylights out of the Chinese aerospace program. Good luck either way.