Soviet-era satellite falls to Earth

March 27, 2012 at 3:20 PM
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MOSCOW, March 27 (UPI) -- A Russian weather satellite from the Soviet era has fallen to Earth, landing in Antarctica after more than 40 years in orbit, Russian officials said.

"According to data provided by the Main Center for Space Reconnaissance, which is part of Russia's Space Forces, fragments of the Meteor 1-1 satellite entered the Earth's atmosphere at 02:17 a.m. Moscow time on Tuesday [5:17 p.m. EST Monday]," Space Forces spokesman Col. Alexey Zolotukhin said.

The satellite was launched in 1969 into orbit 400 miles above the Earth as the Soviet Union's first fully operational weather satellite to observe weather systems, cloud cover, ice and snow fields, RIA Novosti reported.

It ceased operation in July 1970.

Weighing almost 3,000 pounds, the defunct satellite fell to Earth in the Queen Maud Land region of Antarctica, about 430 miles from an Argentinian research station, Russian officials said.

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