Monday, February 17, 2014

Kosmos-1220: Russian satellite burns up in Earth atmosphere

The Kosmos-1220 was launched into by Russia in 1980 and classified as defunct the same year. 

Russian officials warned it will re-enter the earth's atmosphere on Sunday February 16, however officials say they don't know exactly where it will land.

Fragments of the defunct Russian Kosmos-1220 reconnaissance satellite have reportedly burned up in the atmosphere.

Kosmos-1220, a defunct Russian satellite was expected to crash back down to Earth today and was said to poses a "very real danger" if it fell on land.

Officials said parts of the Kosmos-1220 satellite fell out of orbit and re-entered the planet's atmosphere at high speeds.

Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin said the satellite fragments would most likely scatter into the Pacific Ocean.

But he accepted that the location of the spread of debris could be anywhere with officials having no control over the satellite.

"As of February 7, 2014 the fragments are expected to fall on February 16," Colonel Zolotukhin told Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

"The exact impact time and location of the fragments from the Kosmos-1220 satellite may change due to external factors."

Kosmos-1220 was launched in 1980 and briefly used by Soviet ships to monitor enemy naval forces before being taken out of service the same year.

Similar uncontrolled descents – such as the November 2013 re-entry of the European Space Agency’s GOCE satellite – have crashed harmlessly into the ocean.

But in 1978, a different decommissioned Kosmos 954 satellite crashed into an unoccupied part of Canada, spreading radioactive debris and leading to a lengthy clean-up.

And in 2009, a third Kosmos 2251 satellite crashed at over 26,000 miles per hour with a U.S. Iridium telecommunications satellite, sending thousands of bits of space junk into orbit.

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