RTAF is on standby to keep track of out-of-control Chinese space station

The Royal Thai Air Force is closely tracking the movement of a defunct Chinese space staion, Tiangong 1, which was recently estimated to plunge to Earth between March and April.

Group Captain Thamrongdet Charoensuk, director of the RTAF's public disaster mitigation division, however, said that there is a slim chance that the 8.5-tonne out-of-control space station would fall into Thailand.

Nevertheless, he said the RTAF continued to track the space craft and had been on standby as a precaution and would keep the public informed of the updates about its re-entry to Earth.

The satellite-tracking telescope at the Thai National Observatory in Doi Inthanon of Chiang Mai which was used to track space garbage and Thaicom communications satellites has been employed to track Tiangong 1.

Earlier in mid-January Dr Andrew Abraham, a senior member of the technical staff at the Aerospace Corporation based in California, said the risk of an individual would be hit by a piece of debris was estimated to be less than one in one trillion.

However, to figure out exactly where debris from Tiangong 1 could end up is no small task.

Tiangong 1 is currently travelling at a speed of 28,000 km per hour at about 253 km from Earth while the apogee or the farthest point is about 279 km. It was estimated to fly past Thailand for the last time during March 25-26 before its re-entry plunge.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS)