3. March 2001: Russian space station nosedives near Fiji
Mir, a Soviet and later Russian space station, was an accomplished microgravity research laboratory and the heaviest space station to orbit Earth when it began its suicidal nosedive in late March 2001. Most of the station, which weighed 286,600 pounds, burned up in the atmosphere, but about 1,500 fragments fell to Earth’s surface upon its deorbit. The fragments were large enough that people in Nadi, Fiji, were able to see falling bits of the debris and retrieve large chunks of the space station from the Pacific Ocean.