Failed 1970s Venus Probe Could Crash to Earth This Year

Failed 1970s Venus Probe Could Crash to Earth This Year

Exactly when it falls back to Earth is unclear.

Here’s another warning about incoming space hardware — but this saga has an interplanetary connection.

First, we have to peel back space history to the early 1970s, just after the height of the Cold War space-race between the Soviet Union and the United States.

The Soviet Union launched the Cosmos 482 Venus probe on March 31, 1972. But the spacecraft messed up its rocket-powered escape to that cloud-veiled world and got trapped in Earth orbit.

A big chunk of that failed craft remains in orbit today as space junk — but it’s due to come down soon, perhaps as early as this year, experts said.

Sister probe

Cosmos 482 was a sister probe to Venera 8,which in July 1972 became the  second craft to land successfully on the surface of Venus, said Don Mitchell, who studies Soviet space history and has a keen interest in that country’s Venus exploration missions. 

Venera 8 relayed data from Venus’ surface for 50 minutes and 11 seconds before succumbing to the harsh, lead-melting conditions.

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David Aragorn

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