Getty Images / Inok

Keep an eye to the sky from January next year.

An 8.5-tonne spacecraft is expected to crash into Earth around then, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).

What a way to welcome in 2018.

China's first space station, Tiangong-1, has reportedly been out of control since September 2016.

The spacecraft, which was launched in 2011 with the aims of setting up a larger space station, is expected to degrade before re-entering - meaning flaming debris could fall to Earth.

Countries at risk include Spain, Italy, Turkey and parts of the US.

Holger Krag, who heads up ESA's Space Debris Office and therefore knows his space debris stuff, said in a statement:

Owing to the geometry of the station’s orbit, we can already exclude the possibility that any fragments will fall over any spot further north than 43ºN or further south than 43ºS. 

This means that reentry may take place over any spot on Earth between these latitudes, which includes several European countries, for example.

Most of the craft will likely burn up in the atmosphere, but small fragments might survive the heat and make their way to the surface of the planet.

ESA are planning to host a an international gathering of experts in late February to look at re-entry predictions.

HT Daily Mail

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