STS-77 Reentry Observed (!)

Thomas Ashcraft (
Wed, 29 May 1996 12:00:39 -0400

May 29, 1996

I also observed the reentry of STS-77 from Santa Fe, New Mexico.  This was
my second reentry experience.

At 4:50am MDT (1050 UT) the local New Mexico sky was beginning to brighten
and the fireball was yellow-white, maybe "golden". It was supposedly
predicted to be at maximum heat over my viewing range. The straight ion
trail lasted more than two minutes before dissipating.  I listened acutely
but could detect no sonic boom, probably due to some automobile activity
and general low level city rumble. I gave it a full twelve minutes wait
just in case. I did hear Columbia's sonic boom last November though.

I also received and audio recorded the reentry clearly on my forward
scatter radio telescope.  This radio array operates two FM radios at 91.9
MHz and 90.7 MHz and is designed specifically to detect meteor activity and
fireball events. This was the second successful radio reception of a
spacecraft reentry.

For the radio folks on the seesat network, I would say that the common FM
forward scatter/meteor skip method may be a useful way to detect decay

Clear skies,
Tom Ashcraft
Radio Fireball Observatory
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U S A
35^ 41' 08"  N  105^ 56' 43"  W