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This image shows MIR's position as of 12:03 p.m. EST on March 19, 2001. MIR was above Canada at an altitude of 227 kilometers.
Courtesy of NASA

Round and Round Mir Goes...
News story originally written on March 19, 2001

Where it falls nobody knows? Well, nobody knows the exact location! It looks like MIR will fall into the Earth's atmosphere on March 22, 2001. MIR will be the largest man-made object re-enter the atmosphere. Much of the 135-ton space station will burn up, but up to 20 tons could fall to Earth!

Russian mission control will try to control the reentry of MIR by using a series of braking impulses called burns to sink the space station in its orbit. The Russians are of course trying to time things so that MIR falls through the Earth's atmosphere over the vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean. Without the burns, MIR would fall into the Earth's atmosphere at the end of the month anyhow; Russia is just trying to control where it comes down.

The Russians are reassuring everyone that MIR will not fall over inhabited land. But, people in Japan, Australia and New Zealand have been voicing a bit of concern. "There's no way to put the brakes on at over 17,000 miles per hour," says U.S. Space Command spokesman Perry Nouis. "Re-entry is more of an art than a science." Since re-entry is more of an art than a science, only time will tell the fate of this 15-year-old station.

Last modified March 19, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

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