Observation by Nick James: Landsat 9 Centaur stage deorbit burn

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Nick James


Nick James


2021 Sep 27 - 21:12


2021 Sep 28 - 00:25



  • IMX307 video camera



Chelmsford, UK

Target name

Landsat 9 Centaur


Landsat 9 Centaur stage deorbit burn

About this image

I missed the predictions for this so didn't see it but my northwest camera picked it up. The video is here. I wish I'd seen it.

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Nick James
Nick James, 2021 Sep 28 - 12:00 UTC

A few more details:

The Atlas launch was at 18:12 UTC last night and a couple of orbits later the upper Centaur stage was deorbited by firing its engine for 25s. This happened over the UK shortly after the stage had emerged into sunlight. 

The stage first does a 25s rocket burn to initiate the de-orbit and then dumps its residual propellants (LOX and LH2) through the RL-10 engine. On the video the bright plume starts to become visible at 21:11:24 and then grows rapidly into a conical shape. The top cone is the propellant dump and the bottom, fainter, one is the exhaust plume from the de-orbit burn.

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