Reentry Update for Progress M-27M – LATEST UPDATE

Reentry Update for Progress M-27M – LATEST UPDATE

UPDATE, May 7, 2015, 8:30 pm EDT:  Aerospace Corp’s latest prediction is May 8 02:41 UTC ±2 hrs. Subtract 4 for EDT.   Its groundtrack is:

Source: Aerospace Corporation

UPDATE, May 7, 2015, 7:45 pm EDT:  JSpOC’s newest prediction is 01:52 GMT May 8, which is 9:52 pm EDT tonight (May 7).

UPDATE, May 7, 2015, 2:05 pm EDT:   Roscosmos has issued a new update, estimating the reentry will occur between 01:13 and 04:51 Moscow Time on May 8.  That is today, May 7, between 6:13 pm and 9:51 pm EDT.  JSpOC’s latest estimate is 01:36 UTC on May 8 which is 9:36 pm EDT tonight.  Aerospace Corp’s latest is May 8, 01:08 UTC  ± 2 hours (subtract 4 for EDT) and it has posted a ground track showing the reentry path.

ORIGINAL STORY, May 7, 2015, 8:27 am EDT:  Russia’s space agency Roscosmos has refined its estimate of when the Progress M-27M spacecraft will reenter Earth’s atmosphere.  Its current estimate is on May 8 between 00:45 and 06:26 Moscow Time, which is May 7 (today) 5:45 pm – 11:26 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).  It plans to issue an update later today.

Russia is not the only source of estimates of the reentry time. 

  • T.S. Kelso’s (@TSKelso) latest calculation is May 8 at 0859 UTC ± 24 hours, which is May 8 (Friday) at 4:59 am EDT.  However, since there is a 24 hour window, that could mean anytime between now (May 7) and Saturday (May 9) morning. 
  • The Aerospace Corporation’s current estimate is May 8 at 23:09 UTC ± 18 hours, which is May 8 at 7:09 pm EDT.  Adjust for the ± 18 hours and that provides a Friday-Saturday window of May 8 at 5:09 UTC – May 9 at 17:09 UTC, or  May 8 at 1:09 am EDT – May 9 at 3:09 pm EDT.
  • The U.S. Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) estimate posted on is May 8 at 03:32 UTC, which is today, May 7, at 11:32 pm EDT, very close to the end of the window calculated by Roscosmos.

The fact that so many estimates exist illustrates the difficulty in calculating when any space object will reenter in an uncontrolled situation like this.   Many factors must be taken into account including solar activity and the size, shape and composition of the object.   The only factor known with certainty is the boundaries of the latitude on Earth where surviving debris could fall, which is set by the object’s orbital parameters.  In this case, Progress M-27M is in a 51.6 degree orbit, so debris could fall anywhere between 51.6 degrees North latitude and 51.6 degrees South latitude.  Since 70 percent of the world’s surface is water, and much of the land is sparsely populated, the chances of debris hitting a person or building is small, but does exist.

Progress M-27M was launched on a Soyuz- 2.1a rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 28.  A malfunction in the rocket or spacecraft caused it to fail as it reached orbit.  The failure is still under investigation.  NASA refers to it as Progress 59 because it is the 59th Progress to resupply the International Space Station (ISS).   This is the second of four planned Progress resupply flights this year.  The schedule for the remaining two is uncertain until the cause of this failure is understood and rectified. 

ISS is also supplied by two U.S. spacecraft (SpaceX’s Dragon and Orbital ATK’s Cygnus) and Japan’s HTV.  A Dragon is currently attached to ISS and three more launches are planned this year.  An HTV launch is scheduled for August and a Cygnus is expected by the end of the year.  NASA says U.S. operations aboard the ISS will not be affected by the loss of this Progress.

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