Mir to be finally scuttled March 23d

The Mir space station will be sunk in the Pacific Ocean on March 23 at around 9:30 a.m. Moscow time, the Russian Aerospace Agency told Interfax, citing a decision made by the government commission headed by agency director Yuri Koptev. The destruction of the 15-year-old orbiter, originally planned for February 27-28, has been repeatedly delayed because of technical breakdowns, the protests by the "well-wishers," and the fact that Mir is descending Earthwards at a slower speed than space experts calculated. Most of the Soviet-era space station is expected to break up and burn as it hurtles through the Earth's atmosphere. But around 20 tonnes of the platform's 137-tonne mass are expected to survive the burn-up, with 1,500 pieces of debris, mostly very small but a few of them as large as a car, falling to Earth. As AFP puts it, debris is expected to rain down on the South Pacific in a target area 200 kilometres (120 miles) wide, and 6,000 kilometres long, between New Zealand and Chile.