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Defunct German satellite just '7 min' from smashing into Beijing

London, Wed, 01 Feb 2012 ANI

London, Feb 1 (ANI): Beijing was dangerously close to a major upheaval when the city came directly in the flight path of a 2.5 ton crashed German satellite when it plunged into the Bay of Bengal last October, new calculations have revealed.


Had the satellite Rosat remained aloft for just seven more minutes, it would have landed into a metropolis of 20 million people.


The consequences of chunks of the 2.5 ton satellite falling into the city would have been catastrophic - huge craters, shattered fuel lines, explosions, wrecked buildings and countless human casualties in the Chinese capital.


The European Space Agency asserted that it was 'perilously close' to hitting Beijing at nearly 300 mph.


The satellite would have re-entered the atmosphere at a much higher speed, but the friction of the atmosphere slows satellites as they descend - burning them up and tearing them to pieces, the Daily Mail reported.


"Beijing lay directly in the path of its last orbit," said Manfred Warhaut of the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.


But scientists had no means of controlling it once it went out of business miles above the earth.


"Our calculations showed that, if Rosat had crashed to the ground just seven to 10 minutes later, it would have hit Beijing," said Heiner Klinkrad, head of the ESA's Space Debris team.


An impact 'was very much within the realm of possibility,' added Klinkrad.


Rosat went aloft on June 1, 1990 when launched into orbit from Cape Canaveral on a mission to look for the sources of X-ray radiation. (ANI)


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