Space Junk

Some Russian space junk may be heading our way:

Kiwis may have to watch out for ‘space junk’ falling from the sky as an out-of-control Russian satellite orbits over the country over the next two days.

After a decade of planning and an estimated cost of $205 billion (NZD), “Phobos-Grunt” was launched from Kazakstan in November.

Its mission was to land on the moon and to release a further satellite to orbit Mars and send information back to Earth.

However, for unknown reasons the Russian agency lost communication and control of it and as it travels on an elliptical earth orbit, said Department of Archaeology lecturer at Adelaide’s Flinders University Dr Alice Gorman.

From tracking the craft, it is expected to fly over New Zealand several times between tomorrow and Monday and there was a chance of ‘space junk’ such as metals and other materials falling onto the country, she said.

“There are things that could fall – fuel tanks, robust metals like titanium and a few other components. There’ll be some parts that survive re-entry.”


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  • Steve Wrathall

    “estimated cost of $205 billion (NZD), ”   surely million?

    • I’d say billion…ten years of inter-governmental consultants…probably is more than that

  • Actually you are right…

    The cost of the spacecraft was 1.5 billion rubles ($64.4 million).[16] Project funding for the timeframe 2009–2012, including post-launch operations is about 2.4 billion rubles.[22] Total cost of the mission is 5 billion rubles ($163 million). In comparison, the more ambitious NASA/ESA joint Mars sample return mission is expected to cost around $8.5 billion.[74]

    Boy did they get it wrong…

  • Orange

    Nice one Steve