On April 1st, 2018, China’s first space station Tiangong-1 is expected to come crashing back to earth.
In case you are not familiar, Tiangong-1 was launched September 29, 2011. The craft was launched without any passengers and settled into orbit just below the International Space Station. Tiangong-1 is Chinese for “Heavenly Palace” although its fall from space seems to be anything but heavenly.
So what about this space station has people up in arms? Well, first of all, the station was only supposed to be operational for two years. After the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft successfully docked on the Tiangong-1, Chinese officials put the entire space station into “sleep mode.” Initially, Chinese officials had planned to de-orbit Tiangong-1 in a controlled manner, but in March of 2016, already 2 years over its proposed orbit deadline, it was announced that they lost communication with the spacecraft.
And as if that wasn’t scary enough, a few months later it was announced that the Chinese Space Engineering Office, in fact, lost control of the station entirely, making an uncontrolled re-entry to our atmosphere a reality.
Is there any risk of the space station hitting me or my home?
Fear not! The odds of getting struck by a piece of Tiangong-1 are very, very low–less than in one in three hundred trillion. Tiangong-1 is about the size of a bus, and experts say most of the pieces will burn up from the heat of entering the Earth’s atmosphere. For the tougher pieces (such as the rocket engines) that actually make it through the atmosphere, they are expected to land anywhere between the South Dakota/Nebraska all the way to Tasmania, but experts predict they will most likely land in the Pacific Ocean.
If on the off chance a piece of space debris actually does hit your house, you still don’t need to worry. Your renters or homeowners insurance policy includes coverage for “falling objects.” This covers any object above or outside your home that falls downward, causing damage to the exterior walls or roof. “Falling objects” can be anything–scaffolding, a helicopter, and yes, even spacecraft.
And it probably goes without saying, but if you do happen across any bits of toxic, flaming, melted spacecraft, don’t touch it! Not only are all pieces of the space station property of the Chinese government, but they may also be hazardous and highly toxic.
Insurance protects you from a number of perils, and yes, noxious, potentially lethal bits of a space station is one of them. For questions about coverage, just call (800)892-4308 or click to get covered - whether you need renters insurance quotes online or coverage anywhere else!
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