The expired 2.9 tonne (approximately 2630 kg) battery comes to Earth from the International Space Station. The batteries are discharged by the space station’s long robotic arms. At an altitude of about 265 miles above the ground, the discharged batteries do not reach the ground immediately. Many years later, after orbiting in an atmosphere close to Earth, they fall to the ground and disappear.
The release of the batteries comes after NASA completed an upgrade of the batteries that will power the International Space Station. Outdated 48 nickel hydrogen batteries have been replaced by 24 lithium ion batteries. The battery replacement process, which began in 2016, took about four years. The batteries will last ISS in 2020.
NASA had previously decided not to destroy the batteries by throwing them to the ground. The plan was to bring the Japanese H-II transmission vehicle (HTV) to Earth. But the failure of the 2018 Soyuz launch misled NASA. Space tracks outside the ISS had to be rearranged to be repaired. With this, it was decided to drop the batteries from the space station.
At 2,630 kilograms, these batteries are the largest object to be ejected from a space station in terms of weight. In 2007, the ammonia service system tank ISS. It is a heavy object previously ejected by the space station.
But these batteries are not the biggest object to fall from space to Earth. This is the location of China’s Long March 5B rocket. The rocket was launched on May 11, 2020. What is special is that it only had one stage compared to other rockets. So six days after the mission was completed, the rocket lost control and crashed to the ground. The rocket is estimated to weigh about 21 tons (approximately 19,000 kilograms). Thus the rocket landed in the Atlantic Ocean, thus avoiding accidents.
English abstract: 2.9 ton space station batteries fall to Earth from 426 km