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Farewell, Mir
Updated: Fri, Mar 23, 2001, 11:00 AM ET (1600 GMT)
Originally Posted: Fri, Mar 23, 2001, 7:10 AM ET (1210 GMT)
Mir reentry illustration by AGI The Russian space station Mir completed its 15-year mission early Friday with a fiery reentry over the South Pacific Ocean. After two successful deorbit burns by the Progress spacecraft attached to the station Thursday evening, Mir was knocked out of orbit by the third and final deorbit burn, a 22-minute engine firing that started at 12:07 am EST (0507 GMT) Friday. Mir officially entered the Earth's atmosphere at 12:45 am EST (0545 GMT) when it passed below 100 km altitude, at which point atmospheric friction began to heat up and break apart the station. Those portions of the station that survived reentry would have splashed down at 12:59 am EST (0559 GMT) at an estimated location of 40 degrees south, 160 degrees west, well within the predicted impact area. The reentry was seen not only by observers on a chartered aircraft flying in the vicinity of the reentry site, but also on the island nation of Fiji. There have been no reports of debris falling on land or on any of a handful of fishing vessels in the impact area. In an example of "Internet speed", a listing for a piece of Mir debris appeared on the Internet auction site eBay less than a half-hour after the impact, although evidence of the authenticity of the item, or even a photo of it, has yet to be provided.
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