German satellite hurtling toward earth

October 21, 2011 - 9:30 PM

BERLIN (AP) — The German Aerospace Center says one of its retired satellites is hurtling toward the atmosphere and pieces could crash into the earth as early as Friday.

Spokesman Andreas Schuetz told The Associated Press on Wednesday that most of the satellite named ROSAT, which is about the size of a minivan, will burn up during re-entry.

Schuetz says, however, that up to 30 fragments weighing a total of 1.9 tons (1.7 metric tons) could crash into the earth between Friday and Monday.

It's not known exactly where it will come down, beyond a broad estimate of somewhere between 53-degrees north and 53-degrees south — a vast swath of territory that includes much of the earth outside the poles.

The scientific satellite was launched in 1990 and retired in 1999.