Where will the ISS and other spacecraft be sunk?

Posted on Jan 12, 2021      132

Any artificial satellite of the Earth is flooded into the ocean after its operation is over. So where is this graveyard of spacecraft located?

Any technique has its lifespan, and even something as reliable as the ISS (International Space Station) will run out of life someday. At the moment, the life of the station has been extended until 2024, and then it will be removed from orbit and sunk. And in a certain place - the so-called “Point Nemo” or ocean pole of inaccessibility.

Ocean pole of inaccessibility - is a point in the ocean where the distance from any part of the land along the circumference will be maximum (you can read more about ocean pole of inaccessibility in this article). Since the beginning of the space age, this place has also become notable because here is probably the most inaccessible cemetery in the world. This is the graveyard of submerged spacecraft.

Hundreds of satellites orbit the Earth, making our lives easier and more mobile. But when one spacecraft is reaching the end of its useful life, leaving an object the size of a car in orbit is quite risky - what if some of its parts don’t burn up in the atmosphere and fall on someone’s head? Sending an object into distant space does not work - to overcome the Earth’s gravity, it needs a powerful impulse, which cannot be achieved without an enormous amount of fuel.

Therefore, it would be most expedient to sink spacecraft after their lifetime expiration. And the ocean inaccessibility pole suits this purpose and possible.

Ocean inaccessibility pole

Located 2,800 kilometers off the coast of New Zealand and 4 kilometers deep, this point is an ideal location for the last resting place of satellites. This area is officially closed to shipping and air transport, so sinking spacecraft here minimizes any risks to people.

Since 1971, 263 spacecraft have been sunk in the “Point Nemo” area. The most famous of them was the Russian space station “Mir” weighing 142 tons.

Nothing foreshadows that space agencies will choose another point on the planet as the graveyard of spacecraft. Therefore, when the ISS reaches the end of its life, it, like hundreds of other satellites, will be sent to Point Nemo to send it to a well-deserved rest among the ocean depths.