JIUQUAN. CHINA — When the Chinese re-entered the space race in the 90s, they tried to team up with NASA. But Congress wasn't having it.
"There's tremendous skepticism there about China," said aviation analyst Miles O'Brien, "It's viewed as a foe. It's viewed as a government that seeks to take our intellectual property."
The U.S. might be regretting that decision now. See, the space lab China sent up in 2011, Tiangong-1, is out of control.
The Chinese all but admitted that in a press conference last week, saying they are monitoring it for collisions with other space objects. That's a scary thought since it's just 18 miles from the orbit of the International Space Station.
"Based on our calculations and analysis," Wu Ping, director of China's engineering office said, "most of the space lab will burn up during falling." Does anyone else have a problem with that word most?
We hate to play Chicken Little, but in this case, the sky really could be falling. China even has a target date for the drop: the second half of next year, according to Ping.
Good news, though, since the Earth is mostly water, it will probably land there. But it would only take a few pieces of Tiangong — 1's 8 1/2 tons to do some major damage to any city.