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
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable