Point Nemo / Spacecraft Cemetery

The phrase “spacecraft cemetery” can refer to an area in the southern Pacific Ocean 3,900 kilometres (2,400 mi) southeast of Wellington, New Zealand, where spacecraft, notably the defunct space stations Mir and Tiangong-1, as well as waste-filled Progress cargo spacecraft, have been routinely deposited.

The area corresponds with the “Point Nemo” oceanic pole of inaccessibility; the area of ocean furthest from land. It has been chosen for its remoteness, so as not to endanger or harm human and oceanic life. The nearest land is approximately 2,415 kilometres (1,501 mi) away from the cemetery.

Other spacecraft types that routinely use the South Pacific re-entry location include several other unmanned resupply spacecraft to the ISS: the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle, and the European Space Agency Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV). A total of more than 263 spacecraft were disposed in this area between 1971 and 2016.

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