FORTUNE – LEON VANSTONE
Tiangong-1 is China’s first space station. Launched in 2011, it was originally planned for a controlled crash on Earth in 2013, but its mission was extended to 2016 when eventually telemetry was cut. That year amateur astronomers began to speculate that the Chinese had lost control of the station. China eventually acknowledged this, announcing that the station would re-enter the atmosphere “in the latter half of 2017.”
If that sounds a little speculative to you, that’s because it is.
And therein lies the problem: The Chinese currently have no control of a 8.5-ton object moving at 20,000 miles per hour that is going to break up into pieces and crash into unknown spots on this planet.