International Space Station releases 2.9-TON pallet of batteries into orbit that NASA says should burn up ‘harmlessly’ in the atmosphere in two to four years

  • The International Space Station has discarded its largest piece of space junk
  • NASA controlled a robotic arm to discard a 2.9-ton pallet of batteries into space
  • The batteries were degraded and swapped out over the past six years
  • The pallet should have been brought back to Earth aboard a cargo ship
  • But a failed launch in 2018 left crew members on Earth who were set for a battery swap mission, which pushed the completion timeline back
  • The returning cargo shift had to return to Earth without the pallet

The International Space Station (ISS) has discarded its largest piece of space junk to-date – a 2.9-ton pallet of 48 nickel-hydrogen batteries. 

A robotic arm attached to the craft released 265 miles above Earth’s surface, which is set to spend the next two to four years in low orbit ‘before burning up harmlessly in the atmosphere.’

NASA, however, does not have data about how many fragments might survive re-entry, NASA communications specialist Leah Cheshier told Spaceflight Now.

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