NASA satellite orbiting Earth for almost 40 years set to fall from sky

A Nasa satellite that has been orbiting the earth for four decades is set to fall from the sky this weekend.

The retired satellite, which was first sent up into space in 1984, is unlikely to hurt anyone, experts say.

The chance that the wreckage will fall on anyone is “very low”, the space agency said.

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Most of the two-and-a-half tonne satellite is likely to burn up upon re-entry, according to Nasa, although some pieces may survive.

The odds that somebody will be injured from the falling debris is 1-in-9,400, claims Nasa.

The satellite is expected to fall on Sunday night (give or take 17 hours) according to the United States Defence Department.

However, California-based Aerospace Corporation says that Monday morning is more likely (give or take 13 hours), along a track passing over Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the westernmost areas of North and South America.

The Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) was launched 39 years ago aboard space shuttle Challenger.

The satellite – which had an expected work life of two years – kept making ozone and other atmospheric measurements until its retirement in 2005.

The satellite got a special send-off from Challenger.

Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, released the satellite into orbit using the shuttle’s robot arm.

That same mission also featured the first spacewalk by a US woman, Kathryn Sullivan.

It was the first time two female astronauts flew in space together. It was the second and final spaceflight for Ms Ride, who died in 2012.

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