Long March-5B Rocket Body (48275) Reentry

Coverage started 2021 May 8

Updated 2021 May 9

CelesTrak provided a live view of the evolving decay of the Long March-5B rocket body that launched TIANHE on 2021 Apr 29. You can still access that interactive visualization by clicking the first graphic below.

The graphic shows the 2D projection from our visualization of how the event was expected to evolve, using the latest 18 SPCS TLE. Since reentry would be expected to occur around perigee (the lowest point of the orbit), the visualization shows the position of the rocket body and the corridors where the 18 SPCS TLE data shows it might reenter. The colors are set to show the decaying altitude, starting at yellow below 150 km and then red below 146 km.

The initial TLE data showed the orbit first dipping below 150 km altitude over South America. As the Earth rotates under the orbit, the perigee moves westward. And as the orbit decays, more of it is below 150 km. The rocket body is moving from left to right in its orbit.

The (then) current official 18 SPCS predicted reentry point is also shown south of India. The graphic shows how to switch to real time mode (useful for tracking during the event) or where to change the projection from 3D to 2D.

Reentry appears to have occurred over the Maldives at 0224 UTC on May 9, as reported by China. The graphic below shows the view of the overall event at that time (using an updated TLE), along with the last 3 predicted reentry points provided by 18 SPCS. The animation time is set to the reported reentry position and the latitude, longitude, and altitude can be seen in the lower-right corner.

Thanks to our partners at Digital Arsenal for helping to pull this together!

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