The crippled Chinese space station could crash to Earth as early as Friday

  • Tiangong-1 is gradually coming close to Earth.
  • Countries with a greater chance of being struck by the Chinese space station have been identified.
  • Launched in 2011, the 8.5-ton Tiangong-1 space laboratory had originally been a symbol of Beijing's ambitious plan to become a space superpower.

Scientists believe China's out of control space station could re-enter the atmosphere as soon as Friday.

The U.S.-funded research group Aerospace Corporation said Tuesday that Tiangong-1 is currently predicted to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere around Sunday April 1, give or take 36 hours.

The European Space Agency offered a similar window, estimating the module will come down between Friday, March 30 and Monday, April 2.

Launched in 2011, the 8.5-ton Tiangong-1 space laboratory, also known as "Heavenly Palace" has been gradually decaying and, in 2016, authorities admitted its functions were failing.

Aerospace Corporation said while it is impossible to plot exactly where the module will touch down, certain regions stand a higher chance.

It identified northern China, the Middle East, central Italy, northern Spain and the northern states of the U.S., New Zealand, Tasmania, parts of South America and southern Africa.

The space agency has previously said the chance of being struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about 1 million times smaller than the odds of winning the U.S. Powerball jackpot.

It added that only one person has ever been recorded as being hit by a piece of space debris and she was not injured.

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, noted in a tweet that he believed reentry of the space station is most likely to be Sunday or Monday.

McDowell has previously explained that an error of one hour in predicting the time of the station's reentry results in a 17,000 mile difference in where the station falls to Earth.