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Space Station Batteries Weighing 2.9 Ton Are Falling Down straight On Earth

The International Space Station has detached a large 2.9-ton pallet of batteries that used to power the space station and is now headed straight for Earth.


The massive array of discarded batteries was connected to a robotic arm that helped it to be released roughly 265 miles above Earth’s surface.


But in case you were wondering that the massive heap of batteries is coming crashing to Earth anytime soon, you’d be surprised to know that this will spend around two to four years in the lower earth orbit (where several other space junk floats) and eventually enter the atmosphere and disintegrate.


ISS batteries dump


The detachment came right after NASA completed its upgradation of the ISS batteries, replacing the dated 48 nickel-hydrogen batteries with 24 lithium-ion units -- a process that commenced in 2016 but took nearly four years to complete, with the final swap occurring in 2020.


Surprisingly, the battery module wasn’t going to be left into the orbit to disintegrate like this. It was actually going to return to Earth, intact aboard the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV). However, it had to be left out after a failed Soyuz launch from 2018 that completely altered spacewalk schedules.


Largest object to be dropped by the ISS


NASA communications specialist Leah Cheshier said in a statement to Spaceflight Now that this was the largest object, mass-wise, to ever be sent from the ISS, weighing at 2.9 tons.


The last big object to be dropped from the ISS was the Early Ammonia Servicing System tank that was jettisoned by spacewalker Clay Anderson during the STS-118 missions in 2007.


But this isn’t the largest space debris to fall from the lower-earth orbit into Earth. That title has been held by China’s Long March-5B rocket, which took off from Earth on May 11, 2020. What was unique about this rocket was that it didn’t have a second stage detachment, it was all just one whole stage.


After conducting its mission, six days later it headed uncontrollably back to Earth -- a nearly 21-ton monstrosity -- something that the Chinese team wasn’t really expecting would happen. Luckily it ended up crashing into the Atlantic Ocean. 

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