Russian satellite Kosmos-1220 'burned up in atmosphere', claims defence ministry official

But reports conflict with observations from Saudi astronomers in Jeddah, where a fireball was filmed shooting through the sky (see video below)

The Russian satellite that was set to crash to Earth yesterday has reportedly burned up on re-entry into the planet’s atmosphere, according to officials from the Russian space agency.

Experts had been unable to say precisely where Kosmos-1220, a decommissioned Soviet military device, would end its uncontrolled descent – sparking concerns that the plummeting hardware represented a “very real danger” to populated areas.

Speaking to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass, defence ministry spokesman Colonel Dmitry Zenin reportedly said the fragments of the satellite burned up at 5.58pm Moscow time yesterday (1.58pm GMT).

Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin, who had previously told RIA Novosti that “external factors” made it impossible to predict where Kosmos-1220 would come down, said Russia’s Space Command had been monitoring the satellite’s re-entry.

Yet their reports conflicted with those of astronomers based in Saudi Arabia, who told the Sabq newspaper: “The [Kosmos-1220] rocket fell and crashed at around 4:40 am (1.40am GMT) on Sunday.

“What distinguishes this incident is that it is an active rocket not debris of a rocket,” said Mohammed Aoudeh, director of the Astronomy Centre in Jeddah.

This timing is closer to Nasa’s prior predictions that the satellite would come down at approximately 1.49am GMT – and footage apparently taken in Saudi Arabia appeared to show it streaking through the sky as a fireball.

While experts had said it was highly likely that some fragments would survive to impact the Earth’s surface, there were no reports of injuries from either Saudi Arabia or Russia.

Though Nasa listed Kosmos-1220 at 4,150kg, RIA Novosti reported that Russian space officials had never disclosed the exact weight of the satellite, put into orbit by a Tsiklon-2 rocket in 1980.

Its dramatic return to earth is the latest high-profile satellite re-entry since the European Space Agency’s GOCE unit – dubbed the “space Ferrari” because of its sleek and compact design – came down without damage to property in November last year.

The GOCE satellite weighed only one tonne, however – and had innovative ion drive propulsion systems allowing agency officials to direct it down over the uninhabited Southern Ocean.

The probability of debris from Kosmos-1220 coming down on land was predicted to be higher, though it remained statistically unlikely anyone would be harmed.

Heiner Klinkrad, head of the ESA’s Space Debris Office, said at the time of GOCE’s descent: “In the 56 years of spaceflight, some 15,000 tonnes of man-made space objects have re-entered the atmosphere without causing a single human injury to date.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick