It was one of the most alarming stories of the week and I had to admit to doing a double take, was this fake news?

Apparantly not.

An out-of-control Chinese satellite carrying toxic chemicals is plummeting towards Earth, and there is a chance it will hit New Zealand.

It is expected to crash-land any time from later this month and we are being warned to stay well away from the impact zone for fear of poisonous gas.


Equally it could crash in the US, Australia or even Europe.

Authorities say they won't have a clearer idea on where the object might fall until an hour before impact, so their re-assurances that the chances of it hitting a person as being remote – are hollow.

Only one person has ever been struck by space debris – a woman who was not seriously injured.

An Aerospace Corp spokesman put the odds of it happening again at "about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot."

With more than 2000 satellites in space and more alarmingly more than 500,000 pieces of debris, or "space junk," floating about above our heads, even these slim odds appear something of a concern to us down here below.

Granted most times objects will burn up in the atmosphere but some, like the Chinese Tiangong-1 space lab module, will make it back to Earth.

Things go wrong in space and we must accept that.

Satellites help us to understand the universe and unravel its mysteries as well as enhance our lives with better communications and internet. We won't stop launching them and indeed the number of satellites to be launched in future years is set to grow exponentially.


So we may just have to get used to living with the threat, albeit small, that one day we might be bopped on the head by a piece falling metal.

It's the Powerball jackpot you don't want to win.

Problem is even Powerball jackpots get struck.