A 2.6-ton block of used EP9 batteries was dropped from the ISS to Earth

A 2.6-ton block of used EP9 batteries was dropped from the ISS to Earth

In March 2021, a block of spent batteries Expose Pallet 9 (EP9) weighing 2.6 tons was dropped to Earth from the International Space Station. Now observers are waiting for the object to enter the planet’s atmosphere.

EP9 is the most powerful object dropped overboard of the ISS. Disposing of used or unwanted equipment in this way is common practice, as it usually burns up harmlessly in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Germany’s Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief reported that EP9 is expected to enter the atmosphere on March 8-9. The agency predicts the splitting of the object, as well as light phenomena and a shock wave. The administration considers the probability of debris hitting the territory of Germany to be very low, but plans to report on the growing risk as information is updated.

The agency published a map showing the possible flight paths of a block of spent batteries:

On the eve of EP9’s reentry into the atmosphere, Space Situational Awareness researcher Marco Langbroek’s tracker registered the object as the pod flew over the Netherlands. The scientist posted this video on the X social network:

NASA clarified that the EP9 contains old nickel-hydrogen batteries and has a comparable weight to an SUV. The space agency predicted that the block would enter the Earth’s atmosphere in 2-4 years.

EP9 was delivered to the ISS by the Japanese ship HTV-9 on May 20, 2020. The unit is equipped with six orbital replaceable units of lithium-ion batteries, which replaced the nickel-hydrogen batteries that operated on the station.

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