back to article Half the world warned 'Chinese space station will fall on you'

If you read the New Zealand Herald, you're (a) probably a Kiwi, and (b) building a bunker because you expect a Chinese space station to drop on your head. Or you could be a Newsweek reader, in which case you're digging bunkers because it's going to drop on your head, not some Kiwi's. If you're in Western Australia, you're …

Anonymous Coward

Clearly it will land in Northern France as predicted by Vitalstatistix.

69
0

Which came first, the Chicken Licken or the chieftain?

8
1
Silver badge

I was going to say, flippantly, that since the history books tell us that Vitalstatistix lived between 100BCE and 0CE, the eminent Gaul wins this battle. Then, unwisely and uncharacteristically, I did a very minor bit of research and discovered that variants of the Chicken Licken story go back 25 centuries.

So perhaps Vitalstatistix hasn’t roasted and stuffed the bird after all.

14
0
Coat

Chicken Licken

For some reason this has reminded me of an occasion in the early 90s, leaving the arena of a music festival in a several thousand strong throng of revellers in various states of intoxication. One particularly inebriated young chap suddenly decided to serenade a WPC with the unforgettable verse:

All my life I've been lickin'

Your fanny lips cause they taste like chicken

Oh boy

Ahh.... what a time to be alive that was... nostalgia sure ain't what it used to be... etc, etc.

9
2
Silver badge

Re: Chicken Licken

You just reminded me of the Dappa Laughs vine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuDQqcNgS9s

1
0
Silver badge
Coat

"Clearly it will land in Northern France as predicted by Vitalstatistix."

If it does then they could call it an Obelix.

6
0

@Korev

While it's falling it will look more like an Asterisk.

Someone get me my coat.

3
0

Re: @Korev

Damn autocorrect, that should of course be Asterix.

2
0

A tap with a menhir

> Clearly it will land in Northern France as predicted by Vitalstatistix.

A light tap with a menhir will sort out any concussions that may occur.

3
0
Facepalm

Bad puns

@Korev

To tell him Asterix has landed?

1
0
Silver badge

I was ranting to a friend about this today...

It's not just the NZ Herald, there was also some American rag (edit: I guess it was probably Newsweek) claiming that it was going to "land" on them. And no doubt several others that I didn't see.

Its orbital inclination is 42.75°. A lot of the world's population lives between 42.75°N and 42.75°S, so there should be plenty of "please let it fall on us!" articles from everywhere.

Thank you once again Reg for not being idiots about it, like "everyone else."

29
0
Silver badge
Alert

Re: I was ranting to a friend about this today...

Slough.

That is all.

7
0

Re: I was ranting to a friend about this today...

Benji ? Benji ? Is that you ?

0
0

Re: I was ranting to a friend about this today...

Trump's Mar-a-Lago is in that band...

6
0

Finders Keepers

If a chunk lands in my veggie patch, can I sell it?

9
0

Re: Finders Keepers

No you cant sell it, it still is owned by the Chinese govt. However, under international treaties (and we know how much China loves treaties). The country that launches an object into space, and the country it is launched from are responsible for any damages caused so you can sue China for any damage it causes.

So that fine chunking pumpkin or award winning roses that gets smashed to bits you can try and collect.

19
0
Silver badge

Re: Finders Keepers

So space stations aren’t like pheasants then? More like footballs.

16
0
Silver badge

Re: Finders Keepers

"No you cant sell it, it still is owned by the Chinese govt."

They shouldn't be so bloody careless with their possessions then, should they?

28
0
Silver badge

Re: Finders Keepers

Does European law on dumping of unwanted products trump international space agreements?

7
1
Silver badge

Re: Finders Keepers

Or (if anybody asks) that priceless collection of Picassos you were storing in your allotment shed

18
0
Silver badge

Re: Finders Keepers

I think we should leave Trump out of this. He is unlikely to be of help

13
0
Silver badge

Re: Finders Keepers

> No you cant sell it, it still is owned by the Chinese govt.

Doesn't it count as an "unsolicited gift" under UK law, or am I thinking of something else?

16
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Finders Keepers

"So space stations aren’t like pheasants then? More like footballs."

This is the sort of plain spoken legal opinion I like to read.

Plus now I know not to set the dog on any bits of space station as I usually do for pheasants.

18
0
Silver badge

Re: Finders Keepers

@Phuzz

I reckon that, just as ElReg has The Register Standards Bureau, it might be time for The Register School of Law to rewrite abstruse technicalities of law into plain language that any duffer (me, as a test subject, can understand).

17
0

Re: Finders Keepers

"Once the rockets go up, who cares where they come down?

That's not my department", says Wernher Von Braun

From the inimitable Tom Lehrer....

19
0
Silver badge

Re: Finders Keepers

"Plus now I know not to set the dog on any bits of space station as I usually do for pheasants."

Surely you mean 'peasants'...

10
0

Re: Finders Keepers

Sure it'll be highly toxic and you won't be able to grow anything in your vegetable patch for another millennia. If it happens to land on your head, you'll have amnesia and won't know what to do with it.

3
0
Bronze badge

Re: Finders Keepers

+1 to that

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Finders Keepers

So space stations aren’t like pheasants then? More like footballs.

I'm not sure, but I think that if you hit one with your car, you can't pick it up; but can another driver stop and take it home?

2
0

Re: Finders Keepers

As far as I know, You can sell your vegetable patch anytime ... ...

2
0

Re: Finders Keepers

"Does European law on dumping of unwanted products trump international space agreements?"

Surely they can be done for not following WEEE recycling regulations at the least...

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Finders Keepers

you can't pick it up; but can another driver stop and take it home?

Only if the other driver is a goalkeeper.

3
0
Silver badge

Hit the US?

It wouldn't dare lest some people here would think it was an act of war and others would try to force the Chinese to pay import tax on it. And there's the lawyers who might just get suddenly interested if someone does get hit by a bit of debris.

18
2
Silver badge

Re: Hit the US?

Hit the US?

Where are all those AEGIS missiles when you actually need them? Oh forgot, they are just for show and pork transfusions.

The only way to minimize the chance of a large chunk landing on someone's head is to whack it right now. It is under the altitude of all satellites so disintegrating it will only do good at this point.

11
11
Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Hit the US?

The Chinese are deathly afraid that it will land in the US, because then they'll be forced to pay tariffs on the steel and aluminium content. And Trump will feel vindicated, taking to Twatter to announce an easy victory and the security of American jobs, fine American jobs, the best jobs, the big jobs.

56
3
LDS
Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Hit the US?

Is there any chance it could hit Washington? Of course before the fat fingered one hits its bigger red button thinking it's North Korea...

14
5
Silver badge

Re: Hit the US?

"The only way to minimize the chance of a large chunk landing on someone's head is to whack it right now. It is under the altitude of all satellites so disintegrating it will only do good at this point."

Yes! The best thing to do to avoid a big piece of metal hitting people is to blow it up, so that lots of smaller pieces of metal can hit them instead.

Good thinking batman! Trump has a job for you.

17
6
Silver badge

Re: Hit the US?

Instead of killing one person a lot, it'll kill lots of people a little bit.

Surely that's better?

24
3
Silver badge

Re: Hit the US?

Easy solution - hit it over the ocean (ship-borne missile or as it is entering the ocean. For each resulting piece, surface area:mass ratio massively increases, the deceleration due to air resistance becomes a major factor and it falls out of the sky in the safest area possible.

If used as a missile test, then it wouldn't even cost as much as you might think (means you don't need to do separate test launches - assuming that one would be needed at some point)

11
1

Re: Hit the US?

> Yes! The best thing to do to avoid a big piece of metal hitting people is to blow it up, so that lots of smaller pieces of metal can hit them instead.

The theory is: Small bits are likely to be vaporized by the heat of re-entry, and/or slow down more since they have a big area-to-mass ratio. Big bits of metal might survive re-entry, with just the outer layer melted off, and can hit at high speed since they have a small area-to-mass ratio.

However, I'm not sure about this cunning plan...

25
0
Gold badge

Re: Hit the US?

I doubt we have a missile that can do much to it. The US have used an SM3 to kill a malfunctioning satellite, but that is a big box of bits. This space station is basically a big empty tube. So a small warhead designed to fragment and hit anything it gets near to, is just going to make holes in it. Like shooting a big rubbish bin with a shotgun. It'll let the air out, if the thing's still pressurised, but might not do much more.

The Chinese have also blown up a satellite. But the bigger the warhead you carry the smaller or slower your SAM is going to be. So as you don't need a big warhead at those speeds, you're unlikely to want to design a SAM that needs to be the size of an ICBM in order to lift its own warhead.

12
0

Re: Hit the US?

"Easy solution - hit it over the ocean "

Lets hope that there is no plastic on this thing

22
0
Silver badge

Re: Hit the US?

so that lots of smaller pieces of metal can hit them instead.

The smaller pieces at that speed will simply burn up in the atmosphere.

A random shaped piece up to 1kg in size has practically zero chance to survive re-entry. A piece > 100kg coming in at Earth orbital velocity has a significant chance of reaching the surface. Something approaching a ton will pretty much hit the ground unless it breaks up in-flight.

So whacking it with one of the precious "mid-course" interceptors - the ones that miss 10 out of 10 is the only chance of making sure it does not hit someone on the head.

This is something which is possessed by 3 nations - USA (demonstrated), China (demonstrated) and Russia. Russia except bits of Caucasus is outside the impact zone so it is giggling and twiddling its thumbs. China is being Chinese. That leaves the USA to do the job. I am surprised they have not done it so far purely for show-off purposes.

13
0
Silver badge

Re: Hit the US?

I doubt we have a missile that can do much to it. The US have used an SM3 to kill a malfunctioning satellite, but that is a big box of bits. This space station is basically a big empty tube.

mv2. While chinese and russian interceptors have warheads and are proximity based, USA does not. It is a direct impactor. Depending on trajectory you are looking at impacting with several kg at an intercept velocity in the km/s range. The energy release is equivalent to a small nuke. There will be nothing left regardless of its shape or size. If it hits. That is the key issue with direct impactors - they have to hit which is not easy if the relative velocities of the impactor and the target can exceed 12km/s (that is what you get for a best case intercept scenario).

11
0

In Soviet Russia...

"Russia except bits of Caucasus is outside the impact zone so it is giggling and twiddling its thumbs."

In rest of world, Chinese Space Station falls on you.

In Soviet Russia, *you* fall on... wait, hold on.

8
0
Silver badge

Re: Hit the US?

"That leaves the USA to do the job. I am surprised they have not done it so far purely for show-off purposes."

But since the Chinese are still the owners, even of the bits that reach the ground, without their agreement it could be seen as an act of war.

6
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Hit the US?

Assuming the best case of a head on impact the energy released is the kinetic energy of the impactor plus a equal amount of kinetic energy of the target. So as you say mV^2 of the impactor. The impactor is launched with a rocket and according to the rocket equation only a very small part of the rockets energy ends up in the payload so we are in the realms of very very much less than a small nuke. Also when the impactor hits sufficient mass to release the energy in the large relatively empty volume of the target that piece of the target is going to go from orbital velocity to zero and get very hot, however the bulk of the target is not going to get hit so will be moving away from the impact zone unscathed at orbital velocity. The solution is to vaporize the impactor just before the impact so that its cross sectional area matches that of the target so all the energy is released. The chances of getting this exactly right at opposing orbital velocities are slim and a partial impact would be a good result with the most likely scenario being that big bits of the target would survive. Whilst an impactor would kill the target it's not going to stop it coming down.

0
2
Silver badge

Re: Hit the US?

according to the rocket equation

What f***ing equation?

Orbital velocity by the station remnant - 8km/s. ~50-70% of orbital velocity by the interceptor - they do not reach full 8km/s. If you are lucky and you manage to match them perfectly head on - 12km/s relative. If not - you are still looking at > 8km/s. How much energy did the rocket expand is irrelevant. What is relevant is what speed did it reach relative to the target.

Let's assume 10kg (it is more) and we get a nice rounded number of 1.44 TeraJoules. One Kiloton is 4.88 Joules. So we are looking a nearly 300 tons of TNT equivalent. Even if it was just hitting at 8km/s you are still looking at > 100 tons equivalent.

There will be NOTHING left from the station if it hits. The "if it hits" is the big if - they do not have a very stellar record.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Hit the US?

Instead of killing one person a lot, it'll kill lots of people a little bit.

Killing is a bit like being pregnant in that it's an absolute condition, so I like the idea of "killing a little bit". Ought to work great in a courtroom :).

3
0
Silver badge
Headmaster

Does Tiangong-1 contain Chinese steel or aluminum?

If so, we are going to need payment on a 10%-25% tariff before any pieces can land in these United States.

(If other Regenistas insist that it is made with Chinese "aluminium", then I guess Britain has to split the tariff with China. That has something to do with Limeys inflicting extraneous vowels on their American cousins.)

23
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018