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Tiangong-1 crash: Chinese space station crashes back to Earth

China's Space Station Tiangong-1 (YouTube/Screen Shot)

An out-of-control unmanned space station crashed back to Earth over the southern Pacific Ocean Sunday evening.

The U.S. Joint Force Space Component Command confirmed Tiangong-1 — whose name translates as “Heavenly Palace” — reentered the Earth’s atmosphere but did not provide updates on whether any of the space station’s debris landed in a populated area. Much of the 9.4-ton station burned up as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere, Chinese official said.

Tiangong-1 reentered the atmosphere at 5:16 p.m. Pacific time.

The location and timing of the Tiangong-1 crash had been debated since Chinese officials confirmed in 2017 it had lost control of the station and it was expected to make an uncontrolled reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

The space station, China’s first, was launched in 2011.

Original crash zone predictions included a wide zone including such massive population centers as New York, Barcelona, Beijing, Chicago, Rome and Toronto.

Despite the dire warnings of a potential crash, scientists said the odds of being struck by space debris is one in 1.2 trillion – or roughly 10 million times less likely than getting hit by lightning.