/nUpcoming and Recent Decays and Re-entries - eventually air drag, gravity or retro-fire mean that a spacecraft or satellite is no longer able to stay in orbit. It re-enters the atmosphere to be destroyed or make a safe landing.
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Launches and Orbital Operations

Tyneside, UK
2021 May 11
Tuesday, Day 131

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Feeling the Heat!

Air drag and, sometimes, gravitational effects cause satellites to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere. Occasionally, re-entry is caused by a deliberate decision of a satellite owner to fire a retro-rocket and bring some part of a space vehicle back to Earth.

Most re-entries result in the vehicle being destroyed by frictional heating as it passes through the Earth's atmosphere. Some fragments may get through and hit the Earth's surface - hence the system of TIP messages to warn of the event. Only a space vehicle fitted with a heat shield will get through the atmosphere for a landing.

NOTE - Names used here are as used by Space-Track rather than the more-descriptive ones in zarya.info's tables. All dates are UTC.

Anticipated Re-entries

Information comes from Space-Track. Most entries are from the 60-day decay prediction messages that are updated each week on Thursday at about 01:00 UTC. If the re-entry date has already passed then you might find the object is also in the actual re-entry list further down the page.

TIP Messages may already have been issued but their publication is not routine (see note at page bottom for an explanation). TIP Messages are more up to date and more precise than entries in the table and take precedence over them. They contain a latitude and longitude estimate for when the object is expected to reack 10 kilometres altitude but it is only shown here when the window is less than 60 minutes. Times are UTC.

Cat No Desig-
Date & Time
Window Lat
TIP Message

There are no forward looking TIP messages at present

CZ-5B Re-entry, 2021 May 9

The potential impact of the 18 tonne CZ-5B rocket stage is causing concern. The two recent CZ 5B stages are the most massive objects to re-enter uncontrollably since the 40 tonne Salyut 7/Cosmos 1668 combination came in over South America 1991. The map below is based on post-re-entry data and shows the ground track during the re-entry.


Other Upcoming Re-entries

Below are re-entries expected over the next few weeks. The table includes only natural re-entries of satellites and rocket bodies. It excludes debris items and planned events like a Soyuz or a Dragon spacecraft returning from the ISS.

Cat No Designation Name
44430    1998-067QQVCC C2021 May 102021 May 5
44073    2019-016AR3D22021 May 222021 May 5
44275    2019-029ASSTARLINK-642021 Jun 12021 May 5
45749    2020-038VSTARLINK-15162021 Jun 62021 May 5
46729    2020-073BMSTARLINK-18412021 Jun 72021 May 5
47203    2020-089BH-2A R/B2021 Jun 72021 May 5
25586    1998-075BARIANE 42L R/B2021 Jun 112021 May 5
43547    1998-067NVTEMPEST-D2021 Jun 132021 May 5
46390    2020-063BCZ-2F R/B2021 Jun 152021 May 5
33450    2008-062DSL-6 R/B(2)2021 Jun 192021 May 5
44187    2019-021BFALCON 9 R/B2021 Jun 202021 May 5
43640    1998-067PQSTARS-ME2021 Jun 212021 May 5
46739    2020-074ASTARLINK-18472021 Jun 222021 May 5
43451    2018-041BCZ-3B R/B2021 Jun 262021 May 5
44279    2019-029AWSTARLINK-682021 Jun 282021 May 5
44074    2019-016BELECTRON KICK STAGE R/B2021 Jul 12021 May 5

Recent Re-entries

This table lists major re-entries that occurred in the last 30 days, whether natural or deliberate. Information is provided by Space-Track and the list is updated frequently.

Cat No Designation Name (SpaceTrack) Actual
48275   2021-035BCZ-5B R/B2021 May 9
43209   2018-018CCZ-3B R/B2021 May 3
46920   2020-084ADRAGON RESILIENCE2021 May 2
45595   2020-026APROGRESS MS-142021 Apr 29
44371   2019-037GSPACEBEE-82021 Apr 26
35008   2009-029AMERIDIAN 22021 Apr 23
44750   2019-074APSTARLINK-10452021 Apr 23
25330   1998-027DSL-6 R/B(2)2021 Apr 23
25723   1999-022CSL-8 R/B2021 Apr 23
44289   2019-029BGSTARLINK-482021 Apr 18
47176   2020-088BGSTARLINK-19002021 Apr 17
46613   2020-072ASOYUZ MS-172021 Apr 17
44029   1998-067PVCATSAT-22021 Apr 13
44033   1998-067PZCATSAT-12021 Apr 13
48160   2021-029BSL-4 R/B2021 Apr 13

Note on TIP Messages

Close to re-entry time for many items, SpaceTrack issues TIP Messages with a more-precise warning of the event. The meaning of the 'TIP' acronym is lost in history but SpaceTrack has made a guess at Tracking and Impact Prediction. ”Time and Impact Prediction” is also more than possible.

The message includes an estimated latitude and longitude for when the object will go through a height of ten kilometres above the ground. It is NOT an estimate of the impact point for debris. In most cases, it is meaningless because of the length of the Window included in the message.

TIP Messages are often a source of confusion as people take the predicted time literally and ignore the error margin (Window) that is also part of the message. In 2011 RIA-Novosti used a TIP Message, issued several weeks in advance, to pinpoint a village in North Africa, doggedly insisting that it would feel the full force of of Phobos-Grunt’s re-entry. SpaceTrack's Window was ±2 days, representing over one million kilometres of ground track and a large proportion of the Earth's surface between 52° North and 52° South.

Page last updated - 2021 May 11

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