Re-Entry: NASA’s PAGEOS 1 Inflatable Sphere

Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA

NASA’s PAGEOS 1 satellite meet its fiery end in September 2016 after five decades in orbit. PAGEOS stands for Passive Geodetic Earth Orbiting Satellite and represents a large inflatable sphere with a maximum diameter of 30.48 meters to serve as a tracking target for geodetic purposes.

PAGEOS 1 was launched on a Thor-Agena rocket lifting off from Vandenberg on June 24, 1966. Entering a polar orbit 4,200 Kilometers in altitude, the satellite completed a nominal inflation and operated for nine years. It disintegrated in July 1975 followed by a second break-up event in 1976. Most of the smaller debris pieces re-entered within a ten-year period. What was thought to be the principal part of the 57-Kilogram satellite re-entered on September 2, 2016.

NORAD ID: 2253
Origin: USA
Object: PAGEOS 1
Type: Geodetic Satellite
Mass: 57kg
Inclination: 83.6°
Launched: June 24, 1966
Launch Vehicle: Thor-Agena
Launch Site: Vandenberg, California

Re-Entry Prediction: September 2, 2016 – 02:21 UTC +/-12 Minutes
Re-Entry Zone: Unknown

Re-Entry Orbit
Image: Spaceflight101/Orbitron
Image: Spaceflight101/Orbitron