Michigan Governor activates emergency operations for falling Chinese space station

A photo of the giant screen at the Jiuquan space center shows the Tiangong-1 module is seen via a camera in the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft before the automatic docking on July 18, 2012. STR/AFP/GettyImages

MICHIGAN — Gov. Rick Snyder today activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to monitor the reentry of China’s Tiangong-1 space station, which is expected to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere between March 29 and April 2.

While most of the space station is expected to burn up during reentry, there is concern that debris could make landfall. According to the Aerospace Corporation, the 8.5 ton space station could land along a strip of the United States from northern California to Pennsylvania, which includes the southern Lower-Peninsula of Michigan.

“While the chances are slim that any of the debris will land in Michigan, we are monitoring the situation and are prepared to respond quickly if it does,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, deputy director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMSHD). “The state will rely on its existing satellite reentry response and recovery plan for any necessary response protocols.”

Debris could contain hydrazine, which is a highly toxic and corrosive substance. Any suspected space debris should be considered hazardous. Anyone who suspects they have encountered debris from the space station should report it by calling 911 and stay at least 150 feet away from it.

The SEOC is overseen by the MSP/EMHSD and coordinates response and recovery efforts by state agencies and local government. The SEOC is staffed by members of state agencies for decision making and information coordination during disasters or emergencies in the state of Michigan.

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