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 …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

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

    1. Martin Budden

      Which came first, the Chicken Licken or the chieftain?

      1. 45RPM 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.

      2. AbelSoul
        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.

        1. Aqua Marina Silver badge

          Re: Chicken Licken

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

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

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

      If it does then they could call it an Obelix.

      1. Montreal Sean

        @Korev

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

        Someone get me my coat.

        1. Montreal Sean

          Re: @Korev

          Damn autocorrect, that should of course be Asterix.

      2. Truckle The Uncivil
        Facepalm

        Bad puns

        @Korev

        To tell him Asterix has landed?

    3. XSV1

      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.

  2. Sorry that handle is already taken. 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."

    1. PNGuinn Silver badge
      Alert

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

      Slough.

      That is all.

      1. Sodditall

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

        Benji ? Benji ? Is that you ?

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

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

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

  3. Martin Budden

    Finders Keepers

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

    1. Bubba Von Braun

      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.

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        Re: Finders Keepers

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

        1. phuzz 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.

          1. 45RPM 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).

            1. teknopaul Bronze badge

              Re: Finders Keepers

              +1 to that

          2. James O'Shea 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'...

        2. Tim99 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?

          1. Steve K 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.

      2. wolfetone 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?

        1. baturcotte

          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....

      3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Finders Keepers

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

      4. nijam

        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?

    2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Finders Keepers

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

      1. psychonaut

        Re: Finders Keepers

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

      2. Craig 2

        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...

    3. smartermind

      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.

    4. Adrian Montagu

      Re: Finders Keepers

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

  4. Mark 85 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.

    1. Voland's right hand 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.

      1. wolfetone 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.

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells 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?

          1. Baldrickk 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)

            1. Swiss Anton

              Re: Hit the US?

              "Easy solution - hit it over the ocean "

              Lets hope that there is no plastic on this thing

          2. Anonymous Coward
            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 :).

        2. Jon 37

          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...

        3. Voland's right hand 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.

          1. tekHedd

            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.

          2. John Brown (no body) 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.

    2. Rich 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.

      1. 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...

    3. I ain't Spartacus 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.

      1. Voland's right hand 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).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Voland's right hand 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.

  5. Marketing Hack 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.)

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Does Tiangong-1 contain Chinese steel or aluminum?

      If Americans want to call it "aluminum", I say "sod um"

      1. Anonymous Blowhard

        Re: Does Tiangong-1 contain Chinese steel or aluminum?

        I hope it doesn't contain any Uranum or Plutonum...

        1. Patched Out

          Re: Does Tiangong-1 contain Chinese steel or aluminum?

          Shouldn't that be Uraninium or Plutoninium?

          1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

            Re: Does Tiangong-1 contain Chinese steel or aluminum?

            Shouldn't that be Uraninium or Plutoninium?

            Okay, let's go back to Humphry Davy's "alumium"

      2. psychonaut

        Re: Does Tiangong-1 contain Chinese steel or aluminum?

        thats a good point actually.

        they can tax aluminum all they like.

        we'll just import aluminium. different thing, shirley?

        1. 45RPM Silver badge

          Re: Does Tiangong-1 contain Chinese steel or aluminum?

          In this case, it's not so much that the British inflicted an extra vowel on the world, but that the Americans have blithely decided to ignore IUPAC standards (which, of course, specify Aluminium)

    2. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: Does Tiangong-1 contain Chinese steel or aluminum?

      "That has something to do with Limeys inflicting extraneous vowels on their American cousins"

      Surely, it's only an extraneous vowel if it isn't pronounced - and we do.

      Note: I hope the sound sample on that page pronounces it correctly. I didn't bother checking - but the phonetic version is correct, so probably. ;)

      1. Handle123456

        Re: Does Tiangong-1 contain Chinese steel or aluminum?

        Šůrly, its ounly en extrejnyjs vaul if it isnt pronaunst.

        And I did not even bother with all the extra fluff in "cousins" or "version".

        1. Colin Wilson 2

          Re: Does Tiangong-1 contain Chinese steel or aluminum?

          > "And I did not even bother with all the extra fluff in "cousins" or "version"

          "Version"' is probably not a great example. I'm sure the late Brian Sewell would have pronounced it correctly

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does Tiangong-1 contain Chinese steel or aluminum?

      The difference between aluminum and aluminium is that aluminum tastes like fear.

      (Particularly when it lands on your house at a rate of knots...)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does Tiangong-1 contain Chinese steel or aluminum?

      "(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.)"

      That can't be right. How is it fair that the Limeys get to pay the Chinese aluminium tariff ON TOP of the antti-trust vowel tariff enacted to stop British vowel-dumping practices in general and the Hollywood villain monopoly in particular?

      Never mind, Brexit will fix it. Brexit fixes everything.

  6. lglethal Silver badge
    Boffin

    Just an idea

    Since people are actually relatively concerned that some larger parts of this space station could hit the Earths surface and do a bit of damage, why doesnt China, once the space stations a bit lower (i.e. in at a height that is guaranteed to de-orbit within a year) hit it with one of those same missiles with which they created a great bloody space mess a few years back (by shooting one of their failed satellites and leaving a great debris cloud strewn across an entire orbit).

    Done right, you would hope thedestroyed space station would then have no large parts to reach the surface and cause damage and whilst this would create another great bloody space mess (TM), it would be at such a low altitude all pieces would de-orbit within a year.

    They have the tech and I'm sure they wouldnt mind an excuse to test it again... And everyone underneath the predicted path can stop building bunkers. Win-win!

    1. SW

      Hmm, wonder what could go wrong with an attempted missile strike against it. Wonder what happens when the thing misses its target and then goes off hunting for another nice lump of orbiting metal to hump with?

      1. nijam

        > Wonder what happens when the thing misses its target and then goes off hunting for another nice lump of orbiting metal to hump with?

        Or, more plausibly, falls back to earth...

      2. Al Black
        Mushroom

        Hypersonic Missiles

        Why don't the Chinese shoot it down with one of their new Hypersonic Missiles?

        http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/hypervelocity-missile-breakthrough-makes-china-the-world-leader-in-new-weaponry/news-story/54cd94ab6883654575a028c1a6df6283

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: Hypersonic Missiles

          You can't "shoot down" a space station. It doesn't have an engine, or wings, or any other system keeping it up, that you can disable. And even if you did, it would just make it deorbit slightly faster.

          We could maybe send Bruce Willis to blow it up.

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Just an idea

      The resulting blast could launch many small pieces into a much larger orbit where they WILL be a problem.

      This thing should never have been allowed to be on an uncontrolled re-entry trajectory in the first place.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Just an idea

        "This thing should never have been allowed to be on an uncontrolled re-entry trajectory in the first place."

        Given that the owners lost control of it and presuming this wasn't intended, "allowed" doesn't seem relevant. The situation is what it is, not what it ought to be.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Just an idea

          Well they stopped using it 3 years before they lost control of it. So they could have de-orbited it earlier. Assuming it had the fuel of course.

        2. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Just an idea

          @dr. Syntax,

          As said by Not Spartacus, the thing spent over 2 years circling the earth under control before communications were lost. Probably China was testing the longevity and reliability of it's control and comms systems, but it's still a very long time to allow something of this size to keep orbiting without some plans in place to get it back onto the planet in a somewhat predictable fashion.

    3. Dave 32
      Mushroom

      Re: Just an idea

      Now, where did I stash those Nike-Hercules missiles, with the W31 nuclear warhead on top? I seem to remember having a couple of dozen of them at one time.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIM-14_Nike_Hercules

      Dave

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. onefang Silver badge

      Re: Just an idea

      "And everyone underneath the predicted path can stop building bunkers. Win-win!"

      That's not a win for the bunker building industry.

  7. DougS Silver badge

    I live in the northern US

    If it falls in my backyard look for it to be auctioned on eBay soon, hopefully for enough that I can retire or at least rebuild my house since I doubt my insurance covers Chinese space stations falling on it.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: I live in the northern US

      I would not do it if I was you. Some of the experiments they ran on it used radioactive isotopes.

      While it is not likely to provide us with any Andromeda Strain fun, it definitely needs some professional handling (even if ends on Ebay).

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: I live in the northern US

        Just the possible presence of Hydrazine on wreckage should make any sensible person (I certainly would) run away from any possible debris. That stuff is seriously nasty.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: I live in the northern US

          "possible presence of Hydrazine on wreckage"

          Which is why you send the French Foreign Legion to dig broken Ariane Fives out of swamps and not people you care about... (There are photos of this and some of the kit we have that was recovered from said swamp still shows traces of hydrazine nearly 20 years later and despite many thorough cleanings)

          More seriously: Radioactive substances can be detected and avoided from a distance thanks to their radioactivity. Chemical poisons are the gift which keeps on giving.

        2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: I live in the northern US

          "Just the possible presence of Hydrazine on wreckage"

          How hot do you think it will get on re-entry?

          Hydrazine is exothermic, and the result of re-entry is going to be release of ammonia.

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: I live in the northern US

            And yet presence of hydrazine is a concern listed by several space agencies for when this stuff returns to terra-firma. If it's big enough to make it all the way down it might be big enough to shield pockets of material from the heat.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: I live in the northern US

        "I would not do it if I was you. Some of the experiments they ran on it used radioactive isotopes."

        Hiroshima's bomb used about 400kg of uranium. 0.7g was converted into energy, the rest vaporised and blew away on the breeze (not to mention all that crud that ended up downwind of the USA atmospheric tests that also vastly outmasses whatever would be on that space station.)

        There are radioactive isotopes on the breeze all the time, especially so if you're downwind of a coal-fired power station and less so downwind of nuclear ones.

      3. IceC0ld Bronze badge

        Re: I live in the northern US

        Reply Icon

        Re: I live in the northern US

        I would not do it if I was you. Some of the experiments they ran on it used radioactive isotopes.

        While it is not likely to provide us with any Andromeda Strain fun, it definitely needs some professional handling (even if ends on Ebay).

        SO it goes on Craigslist then ......................................

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Not a problem

          I never said I'd ship it. Something like that would be marked "buyer pick up only", of course!

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: I live in the northern US

      Seller feedback:

      **

      Item was delivered on time and matched description. But caused me to grow a second head and develop x-ray vision.

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: I live in the northern US

        "But caused me to grow a second head and develop x-ray vision."

        Those are features, not bugs.

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Lost out again

    We never get a decent break in the UK (in any sense).

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Lost out again

      Too right. I'm guessing from the videos that this coming in would make a rather spectacular firework display and I live in a dark country area so I'd love to watch it burn up.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lost out again

      I'm sure if it landed in the UK, the Daily Mail will be tutting loudly complaining about bloody foreigners taking away the jobs we don't want to do.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outpost

    A (really good) book by Adam Baker

    Two words:

    - Space

    - Zombies

  10. Nick Kew Silver badge

    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern will die

    In September 2011 it was a US satellite coming down, and I blogged about it:

    "A NASA satellite is crashing to earth, out of control. Noone knows where it will land, but the chattering classes have been speculating on the risk of humans getting hit by it.

    I just heard Prof. David Spiegelhalter on the wireless telling us the risk of getting hit was similar to the chance of 44 consecutive Heads on tossing a fair coin.

    The Stoppard fans among us know that 44 times is nothing. Do we need to resort to an Infinite Improbability Drive?"

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern will die

      Well at least he didnt say it was a one in a million chance. Because we all know that one in a million chances crop up 9 times out of 10!

  11. Justicesays

    Overextended is not "extra success"

    "Tiangong-1 was a successful mission, given that it was operational for three years longer than its planned 2013 re-entry date."

    I don't call it successful when you leave it up there until you lose control and are unable to do a controlled de-orbit.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Overextended is not "extra success"

      They were probably testing the longevity of the control and comms systems, while monitoring internal pressurization and atmospheric conditions to get data on overal lifetime safety for possible inhabitants.

    2. Chemical Bob
      Devil

      Re: Overextended is not "extra success"

      "I don't call it successful when you leave it up there until you lose control and are unable to do a controlled de-orbit."

      Stop assuming they didn't want to lose control of it....

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Overextended is not "extra success"

        Stop assuming they didn't want to lose control of it....

        Or maybe they just wanted us to think they lost control of it.....

  12. Miss Lincolnshire

    Respekt innit

    The space station won't land on the UK because it clearly recognises the concept of British exceptionalism and has therefore bowed to our inherent superiority.

    If only the Russians and EU were so intelligent......

  13. AS1

    Interesting timing

    Nothing quite like running a "Chinese hardware is going to kill /you/" article just when imposing import tariffs. Not, of course, that fake news would have any part in US politics.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      Re: Interesting timing

      Which part of this article would you describe as "fake"? As far as I can tell, the points delivered are factual.

      1. AS1

        Re: Interesting timing

        @ArrZarr

        It's the kernel of truth, exaggerated to "LIKELY TO HIT NORTHERN U.S. STATES" (Newsweek) and "it's going to drop on /your/ head" (El Reg) that makes it fake news. The real facts that the odds are minimal and the US only one of many countries in a wide area are then placed well down the article (below the fold). Unreported, very few outside national space agencies would notice, and only a minority reading the article today will remember in a month. The release could easily wait until the track was better known. The nudge towards anti-China sentiment as tariffs are imposed is classic MiniTru output.

  14. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Skylab Redux.

  15. Gra4662

    WEEEE

    Have the Chinese got a WEEE certificate? If not they can be fined up to £5000

    They must have one already as they dump most of their tat on the West

    1. spold Bronze badge

      Re: WEEEE

      You mean as in Wheeeeeeeeee! Splat!

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: WEEEE

        Or weee weee weee all the way home

  16. spold Bronze badge

    That's the trouble with them Chinese spacestations:

    1. Tiangong one minute Tiangone the next

    2. When one falls on you half an hour later you feel like another one

  17. Alistair Silver badge
    Alien

    I'm wondering

    ... If some folks at the chinese space agency had watched Aliens recently......

    and decided that nuking from orbit was the only option...

    (Icon matches comment)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you miss the live show as it enters the atmosphere

    You can always watch it on catch-up: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1454468/

  19. dashilson

    Dear Mr Musk,

    Regrettably, we are unable to further process your claim for damage to your 2008 Tesla Roadster.

    As the owner of the other vehicle has submitted evidence that it was unoccupied at the time of the collision, we must agree with their assertion that you were the driver at fault. Further, it would appear that the subsequent damage to the other vehicle is a direct consequence of the collision.

    Our assessors have estimated the damage to the other vehicle as irreparable. The list price of a 2011 Tiangong, at $xxx,xxx,xxx.xx, is in excess of the limits of your public liability policy. Please find attached a copy of the letter we have received from the legal representatives of the vehicle's owner, CNSA Ltd.

    Can we take this opportunity to remind you of our discounted rates on life insurance?

    Kind regards,

  20. Voidstorm
    Joke

    The Overlooked Factor...

    ... is that the Space Hulk(TM) has been invaded by Tyranid Genestealers (TM).

    The impact might be the least of our problems ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Overlooked Factor...

      "Space Hulk(TM)"

      That sounds like one of those obscure variants of the Incredible Hulk that comic book nerds go on about.

      (Space Hulk was first introduced in The Incredible Hulk #8329 (DC Comics, 31 September 1978) when the Blue-Haired Bruce Banner (AKA The Giraffe Hulk (#)) tore a hole between the Eldritch Reality and the continuity in which the Netherlands won the Second World War. This spawned a new Turquoise-Haired Bruce Banner who turned into the Space Hulk. Space Hulk was trapped in the Everyone-Now-Speaks-Dutch reality when Batman, Dennis the Menace and Gnasher sealed the hole in the time continuum. Every geek worth their salt knows this off the top of their head, of course.)

      (#) Blue-Haired Bruce/Giraffe Hulk was- of course- not related to the original Bruce Banner, but a teenage girl from the Planet Mutis that old-school Bruce Banner roped in to being the New Hulk after he got bored of being Old Hulk and decided to become a teaching assistant instead. (See The Dandy, 29 February 1949, "Korky the Cat"). She disappeared due to a spell cast by the Evil Wizard incarnation of Spider Man (from the Everyone Drinks Irn Bru Reality), and also because the novelty wore off and Marvel had to bring back Old Hulk to get 12 year olds buying the comic again. (But with a Malibu Stacey hat.)

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: The Overlooked Factor...

        Will you lot stay out of my drugs cabinet....

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: The Overlooked Factor...

          Well you're all out of the good stuff anyway dude...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Overlooked Factor...

          "Will you lot stay out of my drugs cabinet...."

          But it's cosy in there...

  21. NanoMeter

    Catastrophe Porn

    No doubt it will hit a big city and one of its skyscrapers. Catastrophe Porn as we call it.

  22. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Boffin

    Obligatory Devo...

    ..."Space Junk", that is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFCU_Ld9snU

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Obligatory Devo...

      Alternative: "Kraftwerk: Spacelab"

  23. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Joke

    Typical eBay delivery from China...

    > a “highly variable” re-entry window from 29 March to 9 April

    seems a pretty normal eBay delivery estimate for stuff from China.

    1. PNGuinn Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Typical eBay delivery from China...

      Re: “highly variable” re-entry window:

      1. There wouldn't be this uncertainty if it ran Linux on reentry.

      2. With the BOFH in charge there would be no reentry via ANY window.

      It's lunchtime - I'm pheeling filosophical.

  24. Nosher

    There's a genuine phobia of this sort of thing: keraunothnetophobia - a fear of falling man-made satellites

  25. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    All I need

    is my tiny umbrella and I'll be fine.

  26. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Onboard explosives

    It's too bad that as a final mission objective, these things aren't setup with cordite to blow the seams apart as they hit the upper atmosphere.

    Still, on the bright side, 2/3++ of the "splash zone" is ocean.

    I wonder if the chinese would allow it to be used as a target for tests of a Laser Broom

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Onboard explosives

      "It's too bad that as a final mission objective, these things aren't setup with cordite to blow the seams apart as they hit the upper atmosphere."

      It's risky enough as it is being stuck in a tinfoil thick space station in orbit where things can go wrong without adding explosives to the mix. I wonder if anyone has done any research on the stability of explosives in space? All that rapid heating and cooling over a very wide temperature range every 90 minutes or so can't be good.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Onboard explosives

        @John Brown, since ICBMs with warheads containing explosives exist and plentiful research has been done on full orbital and fractional orbital weapons systems (that stay in space for extended duration) I think there is plenty of research on the matter. I doubt ANY of it is publicly available though.

    2. Not That Andrew

      Re: Onboard explosives

      A better final objective would have been to have enough attitude adjustment fuel to change it to an orbit a bit likely to cause more of it to burn up in the atmosphere, instead of disintegrating.

  27. Mitoo Bobsworth

    It could land on the White House -

    Currently the only place on Earth capable of absorbing all the toxins.

  28. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge
    FAIL

    NZ Herald aka Granny Herald

    If you read the NZ Herald then you're a moron who likes reading stories about the panic d'jour, reality TV stars getting married, and rugby. Because you sure as f*** won't find any actual news.

  29. IceC0ld Bronze badge
    Mushroom

    SO, here's how WWIII kicks off, a Chinese space station, impacts Seoul in the ROK, and as we have that fine upstanding Trump in the Whitehouse, how long before he declares it an overt act of war from the Norks, and "BOOM" it's game over for everyone really :o(

  30. Overcharged Aussie

    Maybe this act of the US Congress from 1979 needs updating?

    https://www.congress.gov/bill/96th-congress/house-joint-resolution/356/all-info

  31. grumbler
    Facepalm

    Is Africa Safe?

    Africa is not listed as a high-probability zone. Are they sure this will not hit Africa, or just don't care? I think it is a little bit bigger than Tasmania.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Is Africa Safe?

      Due to how orbits work, the craft "transits" across the continent relatively fast. The impact is more likely to happen near the "tropics" of the orbit (42 degrees north or south) IE In the ocean or right into the american northern states.

  32. DCFusor Silver badge

    A kiloton is 4.18 e 10^12 Joules, Voland. Just saying - google "kiloton in joules".

    I salute running the numbers as a reality check, most are too lazy or lack all perspective. You just need the right numbers! A Joule is 1 watt-second....

  33. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    The Pacific Ocean covers about one-half of that area

    There's a nice picture on the Interweb showing the Earth with the entire side more or less pure Pacific Ocean, plus on minus the camera not being infinitely far away and thus being ever so slightly misleading.

    So nearly 50% odds it'll go splash in the Pacific. Plus, rumors indicate that there may be some additional oceans on the other side. Gotta be about 65% wet in total in that latitude band.

    So, most likely it'll just disappear while nobody is looking.

    Good luck to those in the At Risk latitude band.

    1. Clarecats
      Alert

      Re: The Pacific Ocean covers about one-half of that area

      Oceans are not empty; large container ships and tankers ply them, laden down with Chinese goods, fuel oil, grain or rubber ducks.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moby-Duck

      These slow-moving vessels (the ships, not the ducks) are so massive that they burn the waste oil from your car's engine, and residual refinery sludge. Sixteen of them create as much air pollution as all the cars in the world, yet the World Trade Organisation holds that this pollution is not to be attributed to any nation, while the International Maritime Organisation points to the poverty of flag of convenience nations. These ships do not dodge well.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1229857/How-16-ships-create-pollution-cars-world.html

      Also many oil and gas platforms would be on the route, even less portable.

  34. Hubert Thrunge Jr.

    They'll do anything to avoid import taxes....

    Will it carry a CE mark?

    Or will the package be marked as a "Gift" or "Children's Toy" to avoid any duty when it lands?

  35. SwizzleStick

    7 years?

    Faster delivery than DX.com then

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tow it back home?

    Call me stupid, but what prevents the UN (or whoever oversees international space treaties) demanding that China either sends up another spacecraft (or contracts another space agency, or, hello, SpaceX, to do so) to get alongside the space station, grab ahold of it, and then steer both craft into a planned safe de-orbit path?

    I realise that there would probably be some hard calculations involved, but we have managed it before whenever spacecraft rendezvous and dock, and we did manage to get Apollo 13 safely back home after all!

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Tow it back home?

      "Call me stupid, but what prevents the UN (or whoever oversees international space treaties)....etc"

      Reality?

      The calculations are not the problem; I could do them quite easily with a pocket calculator. The problem is that what you describe is completely impossible with existing technology. There's a bit of a difference between a carefully planned launch and dock, and creating in a few weeks a currently nonexistent spacecraft with a robot grabber system, then delivering it to the right point with zero delta-v.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaa... (splat)

    Someone page Mark Watney, Space Pirate.

    Mine's the spaceship with the recycled Apollo-era RTGs, potato plants in the boot, and a copy of "Terraforming for complete dummies" in the glove compartment.

  38. Radio Wales
    Go

    Peace?

    I suppose we could always be allowed to imagine that it could permanently solve the Korean war scene for once and for all.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Peace?

    A bit harsh methinks.

    Actually I did wonder what CNSS would do if someone were to hypothetically "borrow" it for an experiment. Say around the end of March.

    It would still burn up but minus some handy components like some of the solar panels, etc.

    They still work but the batteries are toast from what I can make out.

    Would it be classed as piracy, theft, or something else?

    (note: all data would be sent back via 11.025 GHz so technically it coud be called research)

  40. onefang Silver badge
    Coat

    The slow-moving vessels from China are even slower, or so I hear.

    I'll get my coat, it's the one with the rocket powered rubber ducks in each pocket.

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