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The ESA has said that ground controllers were no longer able to command Tiangong-1 to fire its on-board engines, which could have been used to control where it re-entered Earth's atmosphere.

Michigan's governor Rick Snyder has ordered to activate the Emergency Operations Center in the state to closely watch the reentry of China's 8.5-metric-ton (9.4 tons) falling space station Tiangong-1, which is likely to make a reentry into the Earth's atmosphere between March 31 and April 2.

As always, they are couching this timeframe.

"The date, time and geographic footprint of the re-entry can only be predicted with large uncertainties".

The incident was embarrassing for China's space program but it hasn't delayed its progress.

The abandoned eight-tonne craft is unlikely to cause any damage when it comes down, but its fiery disintegration will offer a "splendid" show akin to a meteor shower, Chinese authorities said previously.

So why did the impact window narrow?

Although the orbital decay of Tiangong-1 can be measured, variations in density in the upper layers of the atmosphere and the exact mass and material composition of the space station as it breaks apart cannot be determined.

This development, according to ESA, has brought somewhat behind the new (and even uncertain) forecast, although 1 April is still considered the most probable day.

"The biggest takeaway from this is that as we put more things into space, all countries, we have to be aware that we do have to plan for these sorts of issues that are happening", Tucker said. While it has an estimate on the time to re-entry, keep in mind there's no way to know precisely when it will hit the atmosphere and when small debris might fall to earth.

Although about 5.2 billion people live within the re-entry zone, most of it is ocean, which explains the high probability that any debris that survives to the surface will hit water.

On Thursday, Gov. Rick Snyder announced MI was activating its Emergency Operations Center to monitor Tiangong 1's reentry. That includes a vast swath of the planet, including the entirety of Africa, most of South America, the continental USA from Boston south, and much of China. It was launched in September 2011.

A map showing the potential areas on the planet, shown in green and yellow, where debris from a falling Chinese space station could land.

Since China conducted its first crewed mission in 2003 - becoming only the third country after Russian Federation and the U.S.to do so - it has taken on increasingly ambitious projects, including staging a spacewalk and landing its Jade Rabbit rover on the moon.

It's been hard to predict the precise moment when Tiangong-1 will re-enter Earth's atmosphere, and where it will break up into pieces before it lands.


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