OGO-1 satellite burns up on reentry after 56 years in service

Shane McGlaun - Sep 1, 2020, 5:51am CDT
OGO-1 satellite burns up on reentry after 56 years in service

With so many satellites in space today, when they are no longer functional, they can’t simply remain in place. If at all possible, satellites are pushed back into the atmosphere with the final burn of their thrusters where they burn up on reentry. A satellite that had been in orbit for over five and a half decades, called OGO-1, recently burned up on reentry.

The satellite was launched in 1964 and was in orbit for 56 years before re-entering the atmosphere on August 29. The Virtual Telescope project had been tracking the satellite and captured some images of OGO-1 in its final orbits and on reentry as it burned up streaking through the atmosphere.

The satellite was the first of six observatories launched over five decades ago. It was meant to conduct diversified geophysical experiments to understand the earth as a planet and develop and operate a standardized observatory-type satellite. OGO-1 had a main body, two solar panels each with a solar-oriented experiment package, two orbital plane experiment packages, and six appendages supporting the boom experiment packages.

Shortly after orbital injection, this particular satellite suffered a boom deployment failure resulting in the spacecraft being put into a permanent spin mode at five rpm. In September 1964, acceptable data was received over 70 percent of the orbital path, but by June 1969, data acquisition was limited to 10 percent of the orbital path. NASA placed the spacecraft in standby status on November 25, 1969.

By November 1, 1971, all support was terminated. It appears the spacecraft remained basically derelict since then. The video on the Facebook post attached above shows the satellite reentering the atmosphere from French Polynesia.


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