2 Nov 2009

Space junk re-enters atmosphere near NZ

10:51 pm on 2 November 2009

The remains of a Japanese spacecraft have made splashdown after re-entering the Earth's atmosphere near New Zealand.

The unmanned H-II Transfer Vehicle was loaded with rubbish and sent to ditch in the Pacific Ocean after delivering supplies to the International Space Station.

The resident astronomer at Mt John Observatory at Lake Tekapo, Alan Gilmore, says the craft was able to be guided down into the sea east of New Zealand, using rockets it is equipped with.

It came down shortly before 10.30am on Monday.

Mr Gilmore says the fuel tanks on the spacecraft were probably the only parts which would have escaped burning up in the atmosphere on re-entry.