So 🎵 This Is The End 🎵 – the long proclaimed end of the Iridium Block 1 era. With Iridium NEXT fully operational since February 2019, most of the old satellites that we all loved so much have already been toasted and burned up in the atmosphere. But don’t we know far too little about this very last stage of a satellite’s life? OxidanSky started out to learn more. We mustered our investigative skills and our leading-edge tracking technology to find out what exactly is going on in the skies when satellites are deorbited. And of course we have documented it in elaborate detail for you …
We concentrated our painstaking investigations on five satellites: SVs 14, 32, 59, 60 and 91. They all came 🎵 Down To Earth 🎵 within a week in March 2019.
We were able to detect four distinct stages:
First, the satellites calmly orbited our beautiful planet minding nobody’s business – they had already been retired from service. They happily reflected about their lives. In some kind of 🎵 premonition 🎵 of their imminent demise they had flashbacks of the places they had seen and the gorgeous flares they had graced us Earthlings with. The flares were captured by flare lovers from all around the world. A much wider choice is beautifully displayed in the Catch The Iridium project.
Then we saw the satellites turn around. Yes, you got that right: Their thrusters had been installed to mainly enable ascent to mission orbit by prograde burns. But in order to do retrograde burns to lower their orbit, they have to perform a 🎵 pirouette 🎵. How cool is that?
Then the old fellas were passivated – drained of all their propellant and electricity. This makes sure they cannot explode. After that the satellites become incomunicado and uncontrollable. But despite being passivated, they are not passive at all: They start wiggling like a 🎵 Tumbling Dice 🎵. Probably to balance out the 20+ years of rigorous attitude control they had to undergo. Just watch them in our video. How they frolick and dance along their trajectory, relieved and joyful.
Once the satellites have lowered their altitude enough, the 🎵 God of Hellfire 🎵, sometimes also called “atmospheric drag” takes them down. The friction creates enormous heat and turns them into racing 🎵 Fireballs 🎵s until they 🎵 Burn Up 🎵 in the atmosphere in a fiery spectacle. To which we can only bid them our final #flarewell.
So enjoy our video documentation of how 🎵 The Five Of Us Are Dying 🎵!