Space Station Trash Set to Burn Up in Earth's Atmosphere

Cygnus cargo vessel is carrying junk from the International Space Station.

ByABC News
June 22, 2016, 11:01 AM

— -- Who knew trash day could be this exciting?

A Cygnus cargo ship filled with junk from the International Space Station burned up as planned when it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere this morning just east of New Zealand and over the Pacific Ocean, according to Orbit ATK, one of the companies contracted by NASA to orchestrate cargo runs to the space station.

The vessel was filled with 4,087 tons of trash, according to the company.

Cygnus was released from the space station last week but spent extra time in space as part of a NASA experiment to learn about how fire behaves in a micro-gravity environment.

A controlled blaze was set in the belly of the unmanned Cygnus, burning for about 20 minutes as sensors and cameras collected information about the inferno. The information gained from the experiment is expected to help NASA determine better ways to detect and control fire in space -- a vital security measure for future crew missions.

The experiment is expected to be repeated two more times this year with other Cygnus capsules.