Seven minutes saved huge areas of Beijing from destruction last year when a 2.5 ton satellite hurtled towards earth, it has been revealed.
The Chinese capital was directly in the flight path of Germany's research satellite Rosat when it plunged into the Bay of Bengal last October, two decades after it's launch.
The consequences of chunks of the 2.5 ton satellite falling into the city would have been catastrophic; huge craters, shattered fuel lines, explosions, wrecked buildings and untold human casualties in a metropolis of 20 million people.
Parts of the satellite would likely have torn deep craters into the city, may have destroyed buildings and almost certainly would have resulted in human casualties.
It was ‘perilously close,’ to hitting Beijing at nearly 300 mph, said the European Space Agency.
The satellite would have re-entered the atmosphere at a much higher speed, but the friction of the atmosphere slows satellites as they descend - burning them up and tearing them to pieces.
‘Beijing lay directly in the path of its last orbit,’ said Manfred Warhaut of the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.
But scientists had no way of controlling it once it went out of business miles above the earth.