An Angara A5 rocket lifts off Dec. 27 from the Ple
An Angara A5 rocket lifts off Dec. 27 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense.

  • A failed Russian rocket stage hurtled down to Earth over the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday.
  • It was part of Russia's Angara-A5 rocket which launched in December, TAS reported.
  • The rocket stage was due to be in orbit for thousands of years, astronomer Jonathan McDowell told CNN.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A Russian rocket part came crashing down to Earth on Wednesday and uncontrollably re-entered the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

The upper rocket stage, known as the Persei booster, was launched for the first time on the Angara-A5 rocket from the Plesetsk spaceport in northwestern Russia on December 27, as per the state-run news agency TAS.

The 18th Space Control Station confirmed that the upper stage of the rocket re-entered the Earth's atmosphere at 4:08pm ET over the Pacific Ocean.

The European Space Agency told Insider that the rocket stage was traveling at 7.5 kilometres per second when it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere.

It's unclear where the debris has exactly landed.

The rocket launch was operated by the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD), the country's space agency Roscosmos told CNN.

Russia's MoD didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

The rocket stage was supposed to remain in orbit for many thousands of years. However, it failed to restart and burn up when re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer, told CNN.

McDowell tweeted on Wednesday that he didn't think the rocket stage was a "significant risk."

"Re-entries for an object with dry mass of about 4 tonnes may see some debris reach the ground, but not much," he added.

The incident was similar to China's 22.5 ton Long March 5B rocket, which fell towards the Earth in May, landing in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives.


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