'Extremely low' chance of China's space station crashing into Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: The probability of China’s first space station, Tiangong-1, falling to Malaysia is very low, said the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) via the National Space Agency (Angkasa).

In a statement on Thursday (Nov 16), Angkasa director-general Dr Noordin Ahmad said that based on calculations, the width of the area between latitudes of 43 degrees North to 43 degrees South involves many other countries.

Including Malaysia, it spans an estimated area of 347,860,000 square km.

“Apart from Malaysia, specifically Kuala Lumpur, this area encompasses Singapore (1.35 degrees North), Sydney, Australia (33.86 degrees South), Florida, America (27.66 degrees North) and Beijing, China (39.90 degrees North),” he said.

Taking into account the size of the Federal Territory, which is 243.65 square km, the likelihood of Kuala Lumpur being the crash site of debris is very small, with an approximate 0.0000699% chance only.

“The likelihood for Malaysia is only 0.09%, after taking into account the overall area of 329,960.22 square km,” said Dr Noordin, citing data from data.gov.my and the Information Department.

According to China’s note to the United Nations, most of the structural components from Tiangong-1 will be burnt and destroyed due to friction with Earth’s atmosphere (during re-entry).

The probability for debris to cause damage to activities on Earth, including flights, is very low.

The note, dated May 4, 2017 with the reference number AC. 105/1150 can be viewed at the United Nation of Outer Space Affair (UNOOSA) website.

Through this note, China also informed that monitoring and forecast activities will be increased and predictions of re-entry time will be aired.

Further information will be obtained from the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee dan orbital status, as well as any relevant information, will be published on http://www.cmse.gov.cn/.

The final prediction with regards to the time and place of Tiangong-1’s crash will be provided by China for the attention of UNOOSA and the UN secretary-general.

Many space agencies such as ESA, NASA, JAXA and CNSA are keenly observing and monitoring the dwindling of the space station.

Angkasa, which shares a close relationship with these agencies, is also watching developments closely.

During the expected crash period, Angkasa will monitor Tiangong-1’s altitude daily and further inform the public as necessary.


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