News Brief: A month after the breakup of China’s Tiangong-1 space lab, another spacecraft went to its fiery doom today with far less fanfare. Orbital assessments from the U.S. military’s Joint Space Operations Center indicate that NASA’s Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer made its atmospheric re-entry at roughly 7:45 a.m. PT (14:45 GMT), more than 22 years after its launch and six years after it was decommissioned. The 6,700-pound probe’s destruction wasn’t expected to leave much of a trace, but its legacy is enduring. The mission’s most notable contributions came in the study of black holes and their effect on the fabric of spacetime.
Official decay notice for RXTE came out overnight, together with an updated reentry estimate: Apr 30 1445 UTC plus or minus 7 minutes; corresponding location uncertainty track shown here pic.twitter.com/3n994xF0o6
— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) May 1, 2018