I play a lot of mobile bingo games . It’s a great way for me to relax after a busy day. The other day I was wondering about the randomness of the bingo numbers called. This led my mind off to wondering about other random things like what happens to spacecraft after they stop working. After a little web crawling, I discovered the answer.
About 3000km east of New Zealand and 2000km north of Antarctica lies the Spacecraft Cemetery. This is where all de-orbited man-made space objects go to die. It’s remote, lacks any human population and is really deep (about 2.5 miles). Scientists call this the Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility, the most remote place on earth. When an object orbiting the planet needs a safe place to crash, it is directed to fall in a flaming arc to this spot . You can view footage of Russia’s MIR falling through the atmosphere on its way to the cemetery here.
There are over 263 spacecraft that have been tossed into this watery grave. Russia has deposited more than 190 objects, far exceeding the US at 52. You can see a map of all the space objects crashed over the cemetery. Plans are already in place to send the International Space Station to its watery grave when the time comes. It will require docking an unmanned vehicle to the front end of the laboratory. When the time is right, NASA will burn its propellant full blast and send ISS directly to the bottom of the ocean in a long, flaming spectacular show we will all want to watch. Fortunately, this isn’t expected to take place until at least 2028. Here’s a great article from National Geographic about this coming event.