Recent reports over the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 are overblown, according to China's space agency's officials. It has previously been widely reported that China lost control of Tiangong-1 in 2016 and that it will crashland on Earth sometime in March. However, no one knew definitively where the space station would likely crash.
China now claims that it still has control over the falling space station and can decide where it will crash. Zhu Congpeng, a top engineer at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Group, told the state-backed Science and Technology Daily newspaper that the China National Space Agency (CNSA) is still in control of Tiangong-1 and has been monitoring its descent.
The local report stated that China expects Tiangong-1 to fall into a designated area of the sea in the first half of this year. China also claims that the spacecraft's re-entry will not pose a threat to the environment or the population.
"We have been continuously monitoring Tiangong-1 and expect to allow it to fall within the first half of this year," Zhu was quoted as having said to the Chinese newspaper, Reuters reported. "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," he said.
China has reportedly designated a deep-sea area in the South Pacific as Tiangong-1's crash site – the area is also known as the "spacecraft cemetery" and over 200 spacecraft are believed to have crashed there. Russia's Mir space station, the Progress spacecraft, as well as Nasa's Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory have all reportedly made their death plunge in that very same place.
However, a non-profit organisation called Aerospace Corporation that works with the US government, said the Chinese space station's re-entry was unlikely to be controlled. The group has also said that despite an uncontrolled re-entry Tiangong-1's highly anticipated crash is highly unlikely to cause any damage to people or property.