China's Tiangong-1 space station will fall from the skies within months

Tiangong-1

Tiangong-1

Meanwhile, China previous year launched Tiangong-2, which has hosted Chinese astronauts called taikonauts for 30 days in 2016 and subsequent unmanned missions.

About a year ago, Chinese officials confirmed that they'd lost control of their Tiangong-1 space station, and that it would re-enter the Earth's atmosphere in late 2017. It was visited by China's first woman astronaut, Liu Yang, in 2012. It was launched to turn China into a space superpower.

So far, that's meant a slow decay in its orbit, but in the last few weeks the craft has dropped to a denser part of the Earth's atmosphere and begun to descend more rapidly.

The space agency has already updated the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs on its demise, with the almost nine tonne space station expected to largely burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

The Harvard University scientist forecasts Tiagong-1 "will come down a few months from now - late 2017 or early 2018". China's space agency, United Nations (UN) station in time zone between October 2017 and April 2018, world would hit information.

But there's an outside chance that it'll crash-land in an area where people live, and it'll be impossible to predict, even in the hours before landing, exactly where it'll hit.

He said in 2016, "You really can't steer these things".

Nasa's enormous 77-tonne Skylab space station came hurtling to Earth in an nearly completely uncontrolled descent in 1979, with some large pieces landing outside Perth in Western Australia. He also said that a slight change in the atmosphere can change the course of the space station and make it land on a totally different continent altogether.

"Not knowing when it's going to come down translates as not knowing where it's going to come down", he says, adding that almost negligible alterations in atmospheric condition can change the landing location from "one continent to the next".