National/World

Old NASA satellite tumbling to Earth Fri. or Sat.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A dead 6-ton satellite isn't falling as fast as NASA expected.

NASA's experts are now predicting the satellite will crash down to Earth late Friday or early Saturday, Eastern Time. Solar activity is no longer the major factor in the satellite's descent. Rather, its orientation apparently has changed, and that's slowing its fatal plunge.

Late Friday morning, NASA cautioned there's a now a low probability any surviving debris will land in the United States. Earlier this week, NASA said North America would be in the clear.

Most of the satellite will disintegrate, but 26 pieces - or 1,200 pounds - are expected to rain down somewhere.

The satellite was launched 20 years ago to study the atmosphere.

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Online:

Satellite updates: http://www.nasa.gov/uars

Aerospace Corp: http://reentrynews.aero.org/1991063b.html

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