If the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 lands in my backyard, do I own it?
China lost control of Tiangong-1 in March 2016, so plans to deliberately de-orbit it were abandoned. Instead, its orbit is expected to decay around March 2018. Most of the station will burn up during atmospheric re-entry, but small pieces might reach Earth’s surface – Australia is within the potential impact zone. Technically, spacecraft remain the property of the launching nation, but current international law is much more concerned with who is responsible for the damage and pollution at the crash site. When Skylab debris hit Australia in 1979, NASA allowed local residents to keep any pieces they found. LV