Old NASA satellite falls from the sky this weekend, low threat

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – A 38-year-old former NASA satellite is about to fall from the sky.

On Friday, NASA said the likelihood of the plane’s debris falling on anyone is “very low.” Most of the 5,400 lb (2,450 kg) satellite will burn up on re-entry, according to NASA. But some parts are expected to survive.

The space agency has estimated the chance of injury from falling debris at about 1 in 9,400.

According to the Department of Defense, the scientific satellite should descend Sunday evening, plus or minus 5 p.m.

California-based Aerospace Corp., however, is aiming for plus or minus 1pm Monday morning on a route through Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the westernmost regions of North and South America.

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The Earth Radiation Balance Satellite, known as ERBS, was launched in 1984 aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. Although it had an expected lifetime of two years, the satellite continued to make ozone and other atmospheric measurements until its decommissioning in 2005. The satellite studied how the Earth absorbs and radiates energy from the sun.

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The satellite received special wires from the Challenger. America’s first woman in space, Sally Ride, put a satellite into orbit using the shuttle’s robot arm. In the same mission, American Katherine Sullivan made her first spacewalk. It was the first joint flight of two female astronauts into space.

This was the second and last spaceflight by Ride, who died in 2012.

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