What happens to a spacecraft once it dies?
When a spacecraft completes its mission or runs out of fuel, it’s sent to what NASA calls a Spacecraft Cemetery. Three thousand miles off the Eastern coast of New Zealand and more than 2 miles deep, it’s the one place farthest from any land mass on Earth.
The perfect spot to land giant chunks of spacecraft that are travelling more than 180 mph upon impact. NASA predicts the chance of a spacecraft hitting someone out here to be around 1 in 10,000.
Since 1971, over 263 spacecraft from four nations have crashed here. Only the largest spacecraft ever make it here. Smaller satellites burn up completely before reaching the surface.
Next on NASA’s list is the International Space Station. It’s scheduled for decommission in 12 years to finally take its place among sunken space history.
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