Soyuz Rocket Re-entry

Meteor sighting caught on video proves to be re-entry from Soyuz

Published on December 25, 2011 2:05 pm PT
– By TWS Staff Reporter
– Edited by Staff Editor

( – Another failed launch from Russia as the Soyuz-2.1B rocket crashed into Siberia. The failure did not go silent, many witnessed the rocket and satellite burning up over Germany.

The sighting was seen on Saturday, prompting some to call it Santa Claus, being it was Christmas Eve. However, the sighting over Southwestern Germany was just a re-entry.

“The ball observed … above Belgium, The Netherlands, France and Germany was the return of the last stage of the Soyuz rocket launcher,” Belgium’s Royal Observatory said yesterday.

A video posted on the internet (below) shows how spectacular some of these re-entries are. To catch one you have to be in the right place and at the right time.

The video is below …


ROSAT — Down, but Missing

Defunct German Satellite Hits Earth in Fiery Death Dive

Denise Chow, Staff Writer
Date: 23 October 2011 Time: 03:45 AM ET
ROSAT satellite


This still from an animation by Analytical Graphics, Inc., depicts the re-entry of Germany’s defunct ROSAT satellite in October 2011.
CREDIT: Analytical Graphics, Inc.

This story was updated at 11:18 p.m. ET.

An old German satellite plunged to Earth today (Oct. 22) after languishing in a dead orbit for more than a decade, but officials do not yet know where it fell.

The 2.7-ton Roentgen Satellite, or ROSAT, slammed into Earth’s atmosphere sometime between 9:45 p.m. EDT (0145 GMT Sunday) and 10:15 p.m. EDT (0215 GMT Sunday), according to officials at the German Aerospace Center.

“There is currently no confirmation if pieces of debris have reached Earth’s surface,” German aerospace officials said in a statement.

While the 21-year-old satellite broke apart as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere, German aerospace officials estimated that up to 30 pieces totaling 1.9 tons (1.7 metric tons), consisting mostly of the observatory’s heat-resistant mirrors and ceramic parts, could survive the fiery trip and reach the surface of the planet.

Based on ROSAT’s orbital path, these fragments could be scattered along a swath of the planet about 50 miles (80 kilometers) wide, German aerospace officials have said.

The satellite, which weighs 5,348 pounds (2,426 kilograms), was launched into orbit in June 1990 to study X-ray radiation from stars, comets, supernovas, nebulas and black holes, among other things. The satellite was originally designed for an 18-month mission, but it far outlived its projected lifespan. [Photos of Doomed ROSAT Satellite]

In 1998, the ROSAT’s star tracker failed and its X-ray sensors pointed directly at the sun. This caused irreparable damage to the satellite, and it was officially decommissioned in February 1999.

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More on ROSAT Re-Entry Dates & Conditions

SATELLITE RE-ENTRY: The ROSAT X-ray observatory, launched in 1990 by NASA and managed for years by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), will return to Earth within the next two weeks. Current best estimates place the re-entry between Oct. 22nd and 24th over an unknown part of Earth. Although ROSAT is smaller and less massive than UARS, which grabbed headlines when it re-entered on Sept. 24th, more of ROSAT could reach the planet’s surface. This is because the observatory is made of heat-tolerant materials. According to a DLR study, as many as 30 individual pieces could survive the fires of re-entry. The largest single fragment would likely be the telescope’s mirror, which is very heat resistant and may weigh as much as 1.7 tons.

ROSAT is coming, but it’s not here yet. On Oct. 13th, Marco Langbroek photographed the observatory still in orbit over Leiden, the Netherlands:

Photo details: 5 second exposure, Canon EOS 450D, ISO 400

“I observed ROSAT this evening in deep twilight,” says Langbroek. “It was bright, magnitude +1, and an easy naked-eye object zipping across the sky where the first stars just had become visible.”

Update: Scott Tilley of Roberts Creek, British Columbia, made a video of ROSATon Oct. 15th: “It did get pretty bright, at least 1st magnitude, as it passed overhead after sunset.”

ROSAT will become even brighter in the nights ahead as it descends toward Earth. Local flyby times may be found on the web or on your smartphone.

Also, check the German ROSAT re-entry page for updates.

The role of space weather: Solar activity has strongly affected ROSAT’s decay. Only a few months ago, experts expected the satellite to re-enter in December. However, they did not anticipate the recent increase in sunspot count. Extreme ultraviolet radiation from sunspots has heated and “puffed up” Earth’s atmosphere, accelerating the rate of orbital decay. The massive observatory now has a date with its home planet in October.