Sep 24, 2011 8:38 AM by Kate Richards
WASHINGTON (AP) - Details are still sketchy. But NASA's dead six-ton satellite fell to Earth early today, starting its fiery death plunge somewhere over the vast Pacific Ocean.
The U.S. Air Force's Joint Space Operations Center and NASA say the 35-foot satellite fell sometime between 11:23 p.m. EDT and 1:09 a.m. EDT. NASA says it doesn't know the precise time or location yet.
Some 26 pieces of the satellite - representing 1,200 pounds of heavy metal - were expected to rain down somewhere. The biggest surviving chunk should be no more than 300 pounds.
The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, launched in 1991, is the biggest NASA spacecraft to crash back to Earth, uncontrolled, since the 75-ton Skylab space station and the more than 10-ton Pegasus 2 satellite, both in 1979.