The Space Cemetery Home to NASA’s Past Projects

At exactly 48 degrees 52.6 minutes south latitude and 123 degrees 23.6 minutes west longitude, at 2.5 miles (4 km) beneath the surface of the ocean rest the remains of over 260 spacecraft.

This location is known as the Spacecraft Cemetery.

This spot, sometimes referred to as Point Nemo, in the middle of the Pacific is the most remote location on earth, positioned 1450 nautical miles away from a blip of land. This remote location makes it perfect for crashing giant spacecraft into the ocean.

Image Source: Concerning Reality

Space agencies all over the world use this location as a safe dumping ground for retired or broken satellites orbiting the earth. Leaving these spacecraft in orbit would contribute to the growing problem of space junk, so they use the small amount of fuel left on the crafts to direct them into this precise spot in the ocean.

Only large craft make it to the spot, smaller satellites and spacecraft burn up completely upon re-entry.

For the larger crafts that do make it to splashdown at Point Nemo, their parts break up and scatter over a sea-floor area of over 6.6 million square miles.

Between 1971 and mid-2016, this location has become the final resting point for 260 craft with more coming in the near future. Notable craft “buried” here is the Soviet-era MIR space station, 140 Russian resupply vehicles, several of the ESA’s cargo ships, and as of recent, a SpaceX rocket.

Image Source: Concerning Reality

Joining these spacecraft skeletons of past soon will be the international space station. NASA plans on crashing the laboratory into the cemetery location sometime between 2020 and 2030.

While it may seem odd to just discard all this expensive space equipment into an unreachable point in the ocean, it’s actually the safest and most economical disposal technique. If agencies were to leave the spacecraft debris orbiting the earth, it could crash into other functioning satellites or crash into populated areas on earth. In most cases, there’s really only two options when looking to retire a spacecraft: crash it into the earth or propel it out of orbit.

For larger craft, usually, the safest bet is a controlled crash into the space cemetery.

Space research isn’t always profitable or even beneficial, but it does result in some interesting discoveries and peculiar side effects – like there being over 200 retired spacecraft in the middle of the pacific ocean 2 miles below the water buried for the rest of eternity.

Source: BI, Gizmodo

Trevor is a civil engineer (B.S.) by trade and an accomplished writer with a passion for inspiring everyone with new and exciting technologies. He is also a published children’s book author and the producer for the YouTube channel Concerning Reality.

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