Defunct Satellite Falls in Pacific Ocean

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Image of a Molniya-1 series satellite in the Tsiolkovsky Museum in Kaluga (Credits: Mark Wade).

Defunct Russian communication satellite Molniya-1-98 reentered Earth’s atmosphere and fell into the Pacific Ocean on April 7. The reentry appears to have been uncontrolled but well predicted.

“According to preliminary data, fragments of the Molniya satellite that did not burn up in the upper atmosphere reached the earth’s surface on Saturday, April 7 at 3.17 am Moscow time [00:17 GMT] and fell into the Pacific Ocean,” said a Roscosmos source according to RIA Novosti.

Molniya-1-98 was a 1.6 ton satellite last orbiting at an altitude of 2,378 km. It was part of a military communication satellite constellation that was replaced in 2006 by the Meridian series. Molniya-1-98 launched in 1996 from the Plesetsk space center. The most recent Meridian satellite was launched in December but crashed back to Earth when its carrier rocket failed.

This latest reentry follows closely on the heels of the controlled reentry of Russian satellite Express-AM4. Express-AM4 had been inhabiting a useless orbit after an injection failure in 2011.

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About the author

Merryl Azriel

Merryl Azriel

Merryl is Managing Editor of Space Safety Magazine and Vice President of Public Affairs for the International Space Safety Foundation. A Chemical Engineer and graduate of the International Space University with a Masters in Space Studies, Merryl is committed to the advancement of manned exploration and utilization of space resources.

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