Joint Space Operations Center tracks reentry over California
By JFCC SPACE Public Affairs, Joint Functional Component Command for Space
/ Published July 28, 2016
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC Space), through the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), removed a Chinese CZ-7 rocket body from the U.S. satellite catalog as a decayed object after it reentered the atmosphere July 27, 2016, over North America (vicinity California) at approximately 9:36 p.m. PDT (12:36 p.m. EDT).
In addition to this object, which was initially launched on June 25, 2016, the JSpOC tracks more than 16,000 other on-orbit cataloged objects, which are listed in USSTRATCOM's Satellite Catalog and the publicly-available website www.Space-Track.org. That service is a key element of our commitment to provide space situational awareness for spaceflight safety. The effects of the atmosphere on reentering objects preclude the JSpOC from accurately tracking any reentries after initial contact with the atmosphere occurs.
“Our mission, which we remain focused on, is to monitor space and the tens of thousands of pieces of debris that congest it, while at the same time working with our government, international and industry partners to increase space situational awareness and ensure spaceflight safety,” said Col. Michael Manor, 614th Air Operations Center Commander and JSpOC Director. “There are many factors acting on an object as it decays and reenters the atmosphere, such as how it tumbles and breaks up, variations in the gravitational field of a landmass or ocean, solar radiation pressure, and atmospheric drag, that limit us from predicting what happens after the interface altitude.”
The JSpOC used the Space Surveillance Network sensors and their orbital analysis system to confirm the CZ-7 reentry, and to refine its prediction and ultimately provide more fidelity as the reentry time approached. The JSpOC does not predict or track what happens after the spacecraft decays below the interface altitude, such as where on the Earth’s surface debris, if any, lands.
Additional questions about the rocket body should be directed to Chinese authorities, particularly the Chinese National Space Administration.