Category Archives: General

Space Station about to Crash

The Chinese space station Tiangong-1 is heading back to Earth. The problem is the station is apparently not under any ground control.

We know it is coming down, just not when exactly. The current estimate is centered on 03 April plus or minus one week.

The other piece we cannot predict yet is where.

We do know where it will not, the blue area on the map below from Aerospace Corp.

The yellow areas are said to be worst-case areas, also happen to be the nodes and the green obviously the orbital path. Watching the satellite on N2YO shows the southern node seems to be the lowest portion of the orbit from what I’ve seen. Eventually it will be slowed to the tipping point by atmospheric drag.

Mostly Tiangong-1 will break apart and burn up (should be spectacular) but there are pieces that WILL reach the surface.

Aerospace Corp – “When considering the worst-case location (yellow regions of the map) the probability that a specific person (i.e., you) will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot. In the history of spaceflight, no known person has ever been harmed by reentering space debris. Only one person has ever been recorded as being hit by a piece of space debris and, fortunately, she was not injured.”


Track Tiangong-1

A Few Updates

First we have an update on the launch zone for the Ariane 6 in in French Guiana from this newly released video:

Next, the Progress MS-06 cargo-spacecraft attached to the International Space Station (ISS)  fired its propulsion unit to adjust the orbital parameters of the ISS. According to Roscosmos a 183.6 second burn changed the speed of the ISS by just 0.36 meters/sec or 1.18 feet/sec. This was done to set up “the formation of ballistic conditions for the landing of the transport manned spacecraft Soyuz MS-05, scheduled for December 14, 2017, as well as the launch of the Soyuz MS-07 transport manned spacecraft scheduled for December 17, 2017”.

Roscosmos is also reporting a commission is being formed to investigate the failed satellite deployment. See the replay here. After a nice looking launch there was apparently a communication issue resulting in the loss of the satellite.  The loss is disappointing to be sure, but the commission will hopefully find out what happened and prevent such occurrences in the future. The results of the investigation should be known by 15 December 2017.

Then we have the SpaceX Zuma mission. Last rumor I heard was that the mission has been postponed indefinitely. I say “rumor” because I read that somewhere but can’t point to a source. There is nothing on the Space X website so I’ll just keep an eye out but don’t expect anything very soon.

Now for the future:

A few days from now (08 December 2017) Space X will be launching a cargo-spaceship to the ISS from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida.

On 14 December 2017 as mentioned previously, the manned Soyuz spacecraft with Randy Bresnik of NASA, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency will undock their Soyuz spacecraft from the International Space Station’s Rassvet module and land in Kazakhstan.

Finally: NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and crewmates Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Norishege Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launch to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.


Heads Up

In just a few hours at 08:15 UT / 03:15 ET NASA TV will carry coverage of the docking of the S.S. Gene Cernan cargo-spaceship to the International Space Station.

An hour later coverage begins on the attempted launch of an American weather satellite.  The satellite will be put into a polar orbit and as you can imagine is packed with the latest technology — have a look at the JPSS-1 mission here.

If all goes well coverage can be found here at 08:20 UT / 03:20 ET.

I know, for the North/South American east and points there to the west it might not be the most opportune time so with any luck replays will be available.

Arecibo Observatory Damage

The Arecibo Observatory was damaged, along with the rest of Puerto Rico, by Hurricane Maria.

The National Geographic is reporting everyone is safe and that’s excellent! Initial reports indicated significant damage including:

“Because of the storm, a 96-foot line feed antenna—which helps focus, receive, and transmit radio waves—broke in half and fell about 500 feet into the huge dish below, puncturing it in several places, says Pennsylvania State University’s Jim Breakall, who talked with Vazquez.

A fixture of the observatory since 1966, that line feed weighs about ten thousand pounds and is easily visible in images of the telescope as the pointy thing hanging off the platform. It was once used to detect mountains on the surface of Venus, and it is still crucial for studies of the part of Earth’s atmosphere called the ionosphere, says former observatory director Frank Drake, who is also my dad.”

Read the National Geographic release by Nadia Drake, it’s very good and we appreciate the news.

Video: News – Around The World

September Equinox is Here!

Today is the September Equinox, that point where the the plane of Earths center of the Sun. Spring in the southern hemisphere and Autumn in the north.

Equinox time is 20:02 UT / 16:02 ET.

I’m not a big fan of the September Equinox. Shorter and colder days ahead.