Where Is Tiangong-1 as It Falls Toward Earth? Chinese Space Station on Collision Course

Time is running out for Tiangong-1, the prototype space station that China lost control over and is on a collision course with Earth, and there is now a way to track the doomed spacecraft and watch its dramatic fall.

The tracking website Satview has Tiangong-1 available among the satellites and debris it monitors as they fling around Earth. There are two maps following the test space station: a wider view, with Tiangong-1's flight path laid out in dots, and a closer look showing the land and water below the spacecraft at any point.

Below the maps is Tiangong-1's exact latitude and longitude, altitude and speed.

Users can set their location to see when Tiangong-1 is next due to pass overhead. For most parts of the globe, that time will occur after the space station's countdown to re-entry has expired; Satview has its path on a timer that, at the time of this writing, was a little more than 11 days.

Satview is tracking the doomed Chinese prototype space station Tiangong-1 in the days before it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere. Satview/screenshot

That puts its predicted re-entry on April 1, which is both Easter and April Fools' Day this year.

Although Tiangong-1 will be headed back toward Earth, the majority of it will burn up in the atmosphere. There is a small chance that some debris makes it through, but it is extremely unlikely to hit land. Most of its potential landing area is water. Even in the highest-risk land areas, the odds of being smacked with space debris are lower than winning the lottery.

In total, Tiangong-1, which launched in 2011, is several thousand pounds and about 34 feet long, with two solar panels combining for about 460 square feet of space.

Satview tracks other blockbuster objects as well, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station, which are both firmly in orbit and not expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere.

The website is also keeping a watch on the Humanity Star, the satellite that looks like a huge, shimmering disco ball. The spaceflight startup Rocket Lab launched that object into space earlier this year for a more artistic, rather than scientific, purpose, and it was scheduled to stay up there for nine months. But Satview is forecasting that Humanity Star will actually fall on Thursday morning. However, it will completely burn up in the atmosphere and does not pose a danger to people on the ground.

Tiangong 1
Tiangong-1's predicted re-entry is on April 1. CMSE