RE: oh oh not again, ILS reports proble, with proton launch

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Sat Mar 15 2008 - 15:59:20 UTC

  • Next message: Bill Bard: "Re: oh oh not again, ILS reports proble, with proton launch"

    John Locker wrote:
    > has 
    > some good images of the launcher
    > .........and an interesting comment about the Breeze M stage
    > " presumably bound for an unplanned reentry from a 51.5 deg 
    > inclined orbit, could have more than 16 tonnes of toxic 
    > hypergolic propellant still aboard."
    There is another possibility, as I discuss below.
    Orbital elements have yet to appear, but Spaceflight Now has an informative
    Intended circular parking orbit: 51.5 deg, 107 miles = 172 km
    Intended transfer orbit: 553 x 22,211 miles = 890 x 35745 km, presumably 51.5
    Intended orbit at spacecraft separation = 19.7 deg, 3888 x 22,211 miles = 6257 x
    35745 km
    Achieved apogee: 17400 miles = 28000 km
    So, the present orbit probably is inclined at 51.5 deg, with a perigee between
    172 and 890 km, and apogee 28000 km. If so, then its decay could occur months or
    years from now, by which time leaks may have formed in the propellant
    tanks/plumbing, resulting in an explosive fragmentation in orbit. 
    There is a recent precedent for the latter scenario, in the launch of Arabsat 4
    (06006A / 28943), on 2006 Feb 28 UTC, aboard a Proton rocket.
    As in the present incident, the Breeze M stage terminated its second burn
    prematurely, leaving the payload stranded in a 51.6 deg, 500 x 14700 km orbit.
    On 2006 Mar 24 UTC, the payload was returned to Earth in a controlled re-entry,
    presumably with decay over the area of the South Pacific normally used for this
    On 2007 Feb 19 UTC, the Breeze M stage exploded in the vicinity of Australia.
    The event was imaged by at least two Australian astronomers, as I recall; here
    is one image:
    Some relevant SeeSat-L threads:
    On 2007 May 12, Greg Roberts was the first to spot debris from the explosion, in
    the form of a bright unknown object:
    Mike McCants and I quickly determined the approximate orbit, and identified
    Breeze M (06006B / 28944) as the probable parent object. We assigned the
    temporary ID 07631A / 91117:
    After I failed to recover it on two attempts, Greg Roberts succeeded:
    I quickly updated the orbit using the new data:
    Subsequent hobbyist observations resulted in nearly a dozen orbit updates
    through 2007 Jul 12.
    In Aug 2007, US STRATCOM issued the first orbital elements of debris from the
    explosion, and we determined that our 07631A / 91117 and US STRATCOM's 06006B /
    28944 are the same object. Its radar cross-section area indicates that it must
    represent a large portion of the Breeze-M. 
    To-date, 36 pieces of debris have been catalogued, of which two have decayed.
    Ted Molczan
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