If the Chi­nese space sta­tion Tian­gong-1 lands in my back­yard, do I own it?

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Q & A -

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

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