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As part of my Astronomy, Satellite, and Python journey, I decided to take a break from a larger project (more to come) and plot the rocket stage CZ-5BR/B final orbit plots in Python. Previously, I produced code to plot series of satellites using Celestrak’s TLE data (eg Active, Starlink, Last 30 Days, etc.). So, I began with my prior work and modified it for a single object. My coding work began on May 7 and continued through May 8. At that juncture, the code produced anticipated orbits. Upon splashdown, I confirmed that the code had projected an orbit very close to the reported splashdown near the Maldives. Following splashdown, I continued to work on the code and include the most recent results (May 20) below. Additionally, I embed some third party videos of the rocket stage appearing as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere. The rocket stage CZ-5BR/B final orbit plots include various points of reference.

Rocket stage CZ-5BR/B orbit Orthographic View

Orthographic View

Be sure to click on the images. Move your mouse to Zoom or Pan.

Rocket stage CZ-5BR/B orbit Mapbox View

Mapbox View

To begin, I obtained the most recent Three Line Element (TLE) data for the rocket stage as of May 7, 2021:

1 48275U 21035B 21128.52219278 .05839971 79277-5 20251-3 0 9999
2 48275 41.4664 162.0514 0046297 243.6200 116.0384 16.37905837 1493

Using this TLE information, my Python code then calculated the coordinates for the rocket stage beginning at a custom or current time (converting to UTC) and proceeding each second for s seconds.

Although, I will return to my larger project and begin a separate smaller project, I want to finalize a few items on the plots.

Of course, the uncontrolled nature of the rocket stage raises a number of concerns. To begin with, it very well could have harmed individuals had it hit populated areas. Additionally, the subject highlights concerns about orbital or space debris (stay tuned).

Below, I include embedded content from videos published by others of the rocket stage re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. Accuracy of the video content has not been confirmed, but I have no reason to doubt their authenticity. I thank those who published their video content.

I would also like to recommend Marco Langbroek‘s blog SatCamTrack Leiden. I obtained the links to the tweet with the 18SPCS reported re-entry coordinates from this location. Moreover, his blog provides fascinating and detailed information on a variety of satellite and space related topics.

Update May 22, 2021 –

I updated the plots and interactive webpages. But, for this project, unless something dramatic comes along, I am moving back to my large project and some other smaller projects.

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Author: clmuddjr