The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space Debris Office in Darmstadt, Germany, has issued a new update on the expected re-entry of China’s Tiangong-1 space lab.
The new forecast, which was issued March 15, predicts that the 8.5-ton Tiangong-1 will fall back to Earth between March 30 and April 6, though it stresses that this is a rough estimate.
Re-entry of the Chinese hardware will take place anywhere between 43 degrees north latitude and 43 degrees south latitude — a huge swath that most of the world's population calls home. [China's Tiangong-1 Space Lab in Pictures]
"At no time will a precise time/location prediction from ESA be possible," Space Debris Office officials wrote in the update.
Tiangong-1, the first space station built by China, launched in late September 2011. The first Chinese orbital docking occurred between Tiangong-1 and an unpiloted Shenzhou spacecraft on Nov. 2, 2011. Two piloted missions visited Tiangong-1 as well: Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10, in June 2012 and June 2013, respectively.
Leonard David is author of "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet," published by National Geographic. The book is a companion to the National Geographic Channel series "Mars." A longtime writer for Space.com, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. This version of the story published on Space.com.