Re-Entry: Molniya 3-51 Military Communications Satellite

Molniya-3 – Image: ISS Reshetnev

The Molniya 3-51 (Molniya-3K-1)  Military Communications Satellite re-entered the atmosphere on December 19, 2016 after over 15 years in orbit. Launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in July 2001 atop a Molniya rocket, the 1,750-Kilogram satellite operated from a highly elliptical orbit with its high point over the northern hemisphere to deliver secure communications to the Russian military and government users up into the high latitudes where Geostationary Satellites are not sufficient for full coverage.

NORAD ID: 26867
Origin: Russia
Object: Molniya 3-51
Type: Molniya 3K Military Communications Satellite

Manufacturer: ISS Reshetnev
Mass: ~1,750kg
Inclination: 64.4°
Launched: July 20, 2001 – 00:17 UTC
Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M
Launch Site: Plesetsk, Russia

Re-Entry Prediction: December 19, 2016 – 6:43 UTC +/-31 Minutes
Re-Entry Zone: Unknown

Re-Entry Orbit
Image: Spaceflight101/Orbitron