Chinese officials aren't sure where their falling spacecraft will land

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Chinese officials can't rule out the possibility its falling space station will hit a city next year.

The Tiangong-1 or "Heavenly Palace" lab was launched in 2011, and the last manned mission was in 2013. The lab continued to send data to the Chinese Manned Space Engineering Office until earlier this year, when the office ended the data transmissions.

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Earlier this week, Chinese officials confirmed what had been speculated for months –– that they'd lost control of their craft.

A craft re-entering Earth's atmosphere isn't really the scary part. Usually scientists can control the descent to make sure it lands in an ocean.

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Tiangong-1 China's spacecraft
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Tiangong-1 China's spacecraft
BEIJING, CHINA - APRIL 25: (CHINA OUT) Astronaut Zhang Xiaoguang attends a training on April 25, 2013 in Beijing, China. The three astronauts will be carried by the Shenzhou X spacecraft to visit the Tiangong-1 space module. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - MAY 08: (CHINA OUT) Astronaut Nie Haisheng attends a training on May 8, 2013 in Beijing, China. The three astronauts will be carried by the Shenzhou X spacecraft to visit the Tiangong-1 space module. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - APRIL 25: (CHINA OUT) Astronaut Wang Yaping attends a training on April 25, 2013 in Beijing, China. The three astronauts will be carried by the Shenzhou X spacecraft to visit the Tiangong-1 space module. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
Astronauts of the Tiangong-1/Shenzhou-9 Manned Space Docking and Rendezvous Mission delegation Liu Yang (L), Jing Haipeng (2nd L) and Liu Wang (R) arrive at Hong Kong's international airport on August 10, 2012. The members of the delegation are on a on a four-day visit aimed at sharing their experiences and knowledge about space technology. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/GettyImages)
Astronauts (L to R in blue suits) Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang of the Tiangong-1/Shenzhou-9 Manned Space Docking and Rendezvous Mission delegation attend a press conference in Hong Kong on August 10, 2012. Three astronauts from China's first manual space docking mission received a rowdy welcome from hundreds of flag-waving children as they arrived in Hong Kong on August 10 for a four-day visit. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/GettyImages)
In this image made off the screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center and released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese astronauts, from left, Wang Yaping, Zhang Xiaoguang and Nie Haisheng, wave inside the Tiangong-1 space module Thursday, June 13, 2013. China's Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft successfully completed an automated docking with the orbiting space module Thursday and the three astronauts climbed aboard what will be their home for the next week, state media reported. (AP Photo/Xinhua) NO SALES
JIUQUAN, CHINA - JUNE 03: (CHINA OUT) The spacecraft of Shenzhou X is seen on top of the Long March 2F launch vehicle at the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on June 3, 2013 in Jiuquan, China. China will launch the Shenzhou X spacecraft in the middle of June. The spacecraft will carry three astronauts to visit the Tiangong-1 space module. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
The Shenzhou X spacecraft carried by a Long March-2F carrier rocket is installed at the launch pad in Jiuquan, Northwest China's Gansu province in the morning of June 3, 2013. China will launch the Shenzhou X spacecraft in the middle of June, a spokesperson for the manned space program was quoted as saying by China Central Television on June 3.The spacecraft will carry three astronauts to visit the Tiangong-1 space module, state media reported. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
The Shenzhou X spacecraft carried by a Long March-2F carrier rocket is installed at the launch pad in Jiuquan, Northwest China's Gansu province in the morning of June 3, 2013. China will launch the Shenzhou X spacecraft in the middle of June, a spokesperson for the manned space program was quoted as saying by China Central Television on June 3.The spacecraft will carry three astronauts to visit the Tiangong-1 space module, state media reported. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
The Shenzhou X spacecraft carried by a Long March-2F carrier rocket is installed at the launch pad in Jiuquan, Northwest China's Gansu province in the morning of June 3, 2013. China will launch the Shenzhou X spacecraft in the middle of June, a spokesperson for the manned space program was quoted as saying by China Central Television on June 3.The spacecraft will carry three astronauts to visit the Tiangong-1 space module, state media reported. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
The Long March 2F rocket and the Shenzhou 10 blasts off from the Jiuquan launch center near Jiuquan in western China's Gansu province, Tuesday, June 11, 2013. Three Chinese astronauts took off Tuesday evening aboard the spacecraft to the dock with China's Tiangong 1 space lab. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT
In this image made off the screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center and released by China's Xinhua News Agency, the Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft is seen while conducting docking with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space module Thursday, June 13, 2013. The Chinese spacecraft successfully completed an automated docking with the space module Thursday and the three astronauts climbed aboard what will be their home for the next week, state media reported. (AP Photo/Xinhua) NO SALES
JIUQUAN, CHINA - JUNE 03: (CHINA OUT) The spacecraft of Shenzhou X is seen on top of the Long March 2F launch vehicle at the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on June 3, 2013 in Jiuquan, China. China will launch the Shenzhou X spacecraft in the middle of June. The spacecraft will carry three astronauts to visit the Tiangong-1 space module. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
A girl in a school in Beijing asks Chinese female astrounaut Wang Yaping (Top R) questions as Wang delivers a lesson to students from Tiangong-1 space module in the morning of June 20, 2013. A Chinese astronaut orbiting more than 300 kilometres (186 miles) above the Earth's surface delivered a video class to children across the country on June 20, state television showed in a live broadcast. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese female astrounaut Wang Yaping is reflected in a drop of water floating in Tiangong-1 space module as she delivers a lesson to students that gathered in a school in Beijing in the morning of June 20, 2013. A Chinese astronaut orbiting more than 300 kilometres (186 miles) above the Earth's surface delivered a video class to children across the country on June 20, state television showed in a live broadcast. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Students gather in a school in Beijing as Chinese female astrounaut Wang Yaping (C on screen) and her two companions give them a live lesson from Tiangong-1 space module on the morning of June 20, 2013. A Chinese astronaut orbiting more than 300 kilometres (186 miles) above the Earth's surface delivered a video class to children across the country on June 20, state television showed in a live broadcast. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - JUNE 13: (CHINA OUT) Scientists look at the screen shows the Shenzhou X manned spacecraft conducting docking with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space module at Beijing Aerospace Control Center on June 13, 2013 in Beijing, China. China's Shenzhou X manned spacecraft successfully completed an automated docking with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space module on Thursday. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
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But since China lost control, it has no idea where the craft is going to land. As a Harvard astrophysicist told the Guardian, just a small change in atmospheric conditions could change the craft's course "from one continent to the next."

The saving grace here is most of the craft will burn up as it falls to Earth. But some parts, like the 200-pound rocket engines, may not melt completely.

Still, the planet's huge, so no city is being told to freak out just yet. China just launched a new space station, Tiangong-2, earlier this month.

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