A Satellite Deployed By Sally Ride Has Re-entered Earth’s Atmosphere

By Keith Cowing
January 9, 2023
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A Satellite Deployed By Sally Ride Has Re-entered Earth’s Atmosphere

Update: The Department of Defense confirmed that the ERBS reentered Earth’s atmosphere at 11:04 pm EST on Sunday over the Bering Sea.

A satellite deployed 38 years ago by Sally Ride will return to Earth soon.

According to a status report issued by NASA: “The Department of Defense has predicted that NASA’s retired Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at approximately 6:40 p.m. EST on Sunday, Jan. 8 with an uncertainty of +/- 17 hours. NASA expects most of the satellite to burn up as it travels through the atmosphere, but some components are expected to survive re-entry. The risk of harm coming to anyone on Earth is very low – approximately 1 in 9,400. NASA and the Defense Department will continue to monitor the re-entry and update the predictions.”

ERBS was launched from Space Shuttle Challenger during the STS-41-G mission by astronaut Sally Ride.

According to Wikipedia: The Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) was a NASA scientific research satellite within NASA’s ERBE (Earth Radiation Budget Experiment) Research Program – a three-satellite mission, designed to investigate the Earth’s radiation budget. It also carried an instrument that studied stratospheric aerosol and gases. … The ERBS spacecraft was deployed from Space Shuttle Challenger on October 5, 1984 (first day of flight) using the Canadian-built RMS (Remote Manipulator System), a mechanical arm of about 16 m in length. On deployment, one of the solar panels of ERBS failed initially to extend properly. Hence, mission specialist Sally Ride had to shake the satellite with the remotely-controlled robotic arm and then finally place the stuck panel into sunlight for the panel to extend.[The ERBS satellite was the first spacecraft to be launched and deployed by a Space Shuttle mission. It orbited in a non-sun synchronous orbit at 610 km (that dropped to 585 km by 1999). It was at an inclination of 57deg which did not provide full Earth coverage.”

If you have have a chance to see the IMAX film “The Dream Is Alive” then you can the actual ERBS deployment. And yes the narrator is Walter Cronkite.

35 Years Ago: STS-41G – A Flight of Many Firsts

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.