Russia’s 135-ton Mir space station slammed through the atmosphere in 2001, but it was a controlled dive into the Pacific.
Before UARS fell, no one had ever been hit by falling space junk and NASA expected that not to change.
NASA put the chances that somebody somewhere on Earth would get hurt at 1-in-3,200. But any one person’s odds of being struck were estimated at 1-in-22 trillion, given there are 7 billion people on the planet.
The satellite ran out of fuel and died in 2005. UARS was built and launched before NASA and other nations started new programs that prevent this type of uncontrolled crashes of satellite.
Associated Press Writer Kelli Kennedy contributed to this report from Miami.
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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