Status Report

ESA TV News — info on feed on 19 March 2001 (Mir deorbit)

By SpaceRef Editor
March 16, 2001
Filed under ,

The next ESA TV News feed will be transmitted on

19 March 2001

11:00-11:20 GMT

Please note the transmission parameters below.

The feed will include two items:

1.) European Space Debris Conference (3 min,script and shot list below)

2.) Europe and the de-orbiting of Mir (4 min, script and shot list below)

Script 1: Third European Conference on Space Debris

Every satellite in orbit is threatened by any of the over 150.000 particles of space debris that populate the near-Earth space and are remnants of past satellites and launcher missions. Even a minuscule particle can cause huge damage because its speed is 28000 km/hour – ten times that of a bullet and hundred times its energy. Today, the danger is real that the more satellites are launched, the more debris accumulates.

On 19-21 March, experts from around the world will gather at the 3rd European Conference on Space Debris at the European Space Agency’s Operations Centre, ESOC in Darmstadt (Germany). They will discuss likely causes of space debris, its potential danger and means to avoid it.

The worst cause of space debris is exploding upper rocket stages and satellites. This can be avoided by careful design, where such objects are depressurised after use. Then, the geo-stationary orbit 36000 km above the Earth, where all television satellites are positioned, is getting ever more crowded. Satellites should be ejected out of their orbit, into a so-called graveyard orbit which is 300 km higher, at the end of their life. Likewise, satellites in low Earth orbit should be se-orbited at the end of their life. Also, the ejection of bigger pieces like protective lids, and the detachment of small particles from the surfaces of satellites should be avoided through an appropriate design.

It is a striking coincidence that the European space debris conference is held at ESA’s operations centre during the very same days when this centre will monitor how space station Mir is falling back on Earth; truly the biggest piece of space debis ever.

Shot list:

10 00 00 Title ´ Third European conference on Space Debris ª
10 10 00 G/V’s ESA Operations Centre ESOC, Darmstadt (Germany)
10 10 23 3-D Graphics accumulation of debris from 1957 to 2000
10 10 46 3-D graphics satellite in orbit (Meteosat)
10 10 57 3-D graphics ejection of lid from satellite
10 11 02 3-D graphics explosion launcher upper stage
10 11 20 3-D graphics debris detaching from outer surface Hubble Space Telescope
10 11 34 3-D graphics impacts of debris on solar cells Hubble Space Telescope
10 11 37 Photos of impact craters of solar cells
10 11 55 3-D graphics replacement ejected lid by retractable lid on Meteosat
10 12 03 3-D graphics depressurisation launcher upper stage
10 12 16 3-D graphics protection against particle detachment from outer surfaces
10 12 22 3-D graphics de-orbiting space station Mir.
10 12 42 3-D graphics of putting a satellite into a graveyard orbit.

Script 2: Europe and the de-orbiting of Mir

The Mir space station will forever remain one of the greatest projects in the history of space exploration. It provided Russia with an almost uninterrupted presence in space for fifteen years. 103 astronauts have lived on Mir, and 62 came from countries other than Russia, including eleven from Europe. Two ESA astronauts, Thomas Reiter from Germany and Jean-Pierre HaignerÈ from France, each stayed six months on board.

Mir’s core module was launched by the Soviet Union on 19 February 1986. Thanks to its modular design, the station grew over time to almost 140 metric tons weight. Not only was Mir a strong political symbol for the Soviet Union but the end of the Cold War gave the station an international role, with co-operative research programmes in orbit, and hundreds of experiments carried out on Mir in the fields of medicine, biology, botany and materials science.

Although regularly maintained, Mir has now reached the end of its life and the Russian government has decided to take it out of service. However, an object with a mass of 140 metric tons canot just be abandoned, because atmospheric drag would gradually lower its altitude and Mir would end up by reentering the atmosphere in an uncontrolled manner before crashing somewhere onto the Earth.

That’s why the Russian authorities will carry out a controlled de-orbit. In the night 21-22 March 2001, a series of three firings of the rocket motors of a Progress space vehicle docked with Mir will lower the station’s altitude and drive it down into the southern Pacific Ocean. During reentry, the thermal and mechanical stress will gradually break up the station and most of it will burn up in the atmosphere. Only between 10 and 20% of the initial mass should survive the fiery reentry and reach the Earth’s surface, falling into the Ocean without causing any damage.

During the deorbiting, ESA’s Operations Centre ESOC in Germany will serve as a central communication node between TSUP, the Russian Control Centre, and ESA. A German space radar will track Mir and its data sent to ESOC and TSUP. ESOC will use all available data to monitor the reentry and predict the point of impact.

Also scientists at the French Space Agency’s Orbitography Department in Toulouse will compute the Mir trajectory and compare it will real reentry data in order to compute an independent prediction.

The demise of Mir in the atmosphere does not mean the end of permanently inhabited space stations. Since 2 November 2000, a permanent crew of three astronauts is living and working on the International Space Station, including at least one Russian cosmonaut.

Shot list

10 00 00 Title ´ Europe’s role in Mir and its desorbiting ´

10 00 10 Mir Space station in orbit

10 00 43 3-D graphics of Mir construction
10 01 01 Views inside Mir

10 01 39 European astronauts Thomas Reiter ( Germany ) and Jean-Pierre HaignerÈ ( France ) on Mir
10 02 04 Mir station in the space

10 02 07 Views of damaged Mir (June 1997)

10 02 28 Control room panel ª De-orbiting Mir Station ´ ( in French )

10 02 32 CNES space operations centre, Toulouse ( France ). Mir monitoring

10 02 35 Close-up monitoring screen, de-orbiting
10 02 52 ESA Space Operation Centre ESOC, Darmstadt (Germany)
10 03 23 3-D graphics of Mir atmosphjeric re-entry
10 03 40 Views International Space Station in orbit, international crew
10 04 15 End

Transmission details:

Eutelsat W1 at 10 degrees east

Transponder B5, digital channel 2 (SCPC), horizontal

F=11.144 MHz, SR=5.632MSeyb/sec, FEC=3/4

For further information and a daily update of the transmission schedule, visit our website at For all enquires, contact Claus Habfast, Tel +31 71 565 3838, Fax +31 71 565 6340, e-mail

SpaceRef staff editor.