UPDATE: Toxic Phobos-Grunt Reentry Imminent (Crisis Over – See Below)

After a long delay in the posting of the late-Saturday NORAD tracking fit for Phobos-Grunt, internet watchers were beginning to worry that the spacecraft had already broken up in the atmosphere about a day before most predictions.  That vigil ended just a few hours ago.  One thing that can be concluded from this update, other than the vehicle being intact, is that the orbit decay trends are continuing fairly smoothly.  You probably won’t hear this elsewhere, but that may indicate that ROSCOSMOS has not been completely straight about the tank material housing the toxic propellants.  If it were aluminum as stated, the tanks likely would have ruptured after more than a day of being engulfed by plasma, especially since the vehicle seems to be flying in a tanks-first attitude.  The propellants would have been scattered by now, dramatically decreasing the mass of the vehicle, and causing a spike in the decay rate.  This apparently hasn’t happened.  The vehicle seems to have held together so far, and that’s a bad sign.  In my opinion, it supports the suspicion that the tanks are really titanium, which will probably survive the reentry all the way to the ground.

Where will the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft crash and when?  The timing generally agreed upon by most in the space community is during the day on Sunday, January 15, but the breakup times vary from roughly the earliest time this website predicts, 13:13 UTC (a very unlucky time, apparently…) to about 22:00 UTC Sunday night.  In any case, the ground tracks during this period will closely resemble those in this Russian language plot provided by ROSCOSMOS:

Here’s what the day will look like roughly, using Greenwich (UTC) time unless otherwise noted:

Rev#1: Crosses into Northern Hemisphere at 0:38 UTC.

Rev#2: Crosses equator at 2:05 UTC and passes over LA at 6:15 pm. (about 2 hours ago.

Rev#3: Crosses at 3:32 UTC and traverses Canada.

Rev#4: Crosses at 4:59 UTC and flies over New Hampshire at 25 minutes after Midnight, local time.

Rev#5: Crosses at 6:26 UTC and flies over Chicago and North Carolina

Rev#6: Crosses at 7:53 UTC and flies over Seattle at 12:17am local, and Texas roughly 2:24am local.

Rev#7: Crosses at 9:20 UTC and traverses Pacific rim over water.

Rev#8: Crosses at 10:47 UTC and flies over Sri Lanka at about 4pm local and Tierra del Fuego 7:42am local.

Rev#9: Crosses at 12:12 UTC and sims show the first good chance of final plunge at Tierra del Fuego at 13:13 UTC, 8:13am Eastern US time.

Rev#10: Crosses at 13:40 UTC and flies over Saudi Arabia, Russia and TDF.

Rev#11: Crosses at 15:07 UTC and flies over Cairo, Russia, Tokyo and TDF.

Rev#12: Crosses at 16:34 UTC and flies over Africa, Greece, Chile and the Amazon.

Rev#13: Crosses at 18:01 UTC and flies over the Amazon, French Riviera, Italy, Queensland and Peru.

Rev#14: Crosses at 19:27 UTC and flies over Paris, Indonesia and New South Wales.

Rev#15: Crosses at 20:53 UTC and flies over Columbia, London and Chennai.

At the current time, based on the NORAD tracking state from Saturday night, the Grunt’s most likely prediction is for a touchdown very near northern Japan, descending from the northeast at 15:39 UTC, which is 10:39am Eastern US time.

This prediction is made with a +/-6 hour uncertainty, and the following locations are considered to be at low-but-finite risk: Japan, Egypt and the Middle East, Caspian and Black Sea Areas, South America, West Africa, Greece,  China, Southern Russian, Hawaii, Oceania, French and Spanish Rivieras and Northern Italy.  At the current time, North America, most of Russia, South Africa and Scandinavia appear to be at very low risk.

This information is for general interest and is based on information publicly available with no guarantee of accuracy.   Please consult your local authorities for public safety and hazard information.

Final Update:  The official Russian pronouncement places the flying fuel-tank down in the Pacific off the southern coast of Chile. Their estimated down time was 10:45pm Moscow time, or 17:45 UTC or 12:45pm Eastern US time. If you look at the rev list above, that would put it just before Rev#13 of the day, just after it had passed south of Japan, across the South Pacific and just before it was to fly across the Amazon, Atlantic, Gibraltar, the Spanish and French Rivieras and Italy. If you locate Gibraltar on the map above, you can follow the blue line backwards across the Atlantic and South America to where it apparently took the plunge.

Is this really where it went down? Nobody knows until fuel tanks start washing ashore at Santiago or debris shows up somewhere else. It’s hard to say, really, since there were no tracking facilities that could see it after it flew over Russia that last time. So who knows? But if you’re in Chile or Japan or Africa, and you see a round metal thing on the beach that looks like a beach ball, don’t use it to put your coconuts in!

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About GruntOfMonteCristo

Fearless and Devout Catholic Christian First, Loving Husband and Father Second, Pissed-Off Patriot Third, Rocket Engineer Dork Last.
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29 Responses to UPDATE: Toxic Phobos-Grunt Reentry Imminent (Crisis Over – See Below)

  1. Zauber says:

    This whole incident has more in common with my first marriage than anything else, and neither was rocket science.

    Great, now my avatar looks like Lisa Simpson – who assigns these, the UAW?

    • Yeah, this was not one of ROSCOSMOS’s proudest moments. So, the first marriage promised to be a big deal and threatened to be catastrophic and then exited with a whimper where nobody knew what the hell happened? I know exactly what you mean. Sounds like all my jobs.

      Your avatar looks exactly the same to me. Purple face with glasses, right? Have you been into the whiskey again? 😉

  2. Zauber says:

    No. The avatar originally looked like Lisa had been sucking on the micro dots but as I pressed the ‘what the hell’ button it transmogrified (thanks, Calvin) into the visage of my smiling countenance I’m used to seeing. First marriage was loaded with toxic elements, moved into an obviously decaying trajectory that crashed God knows where on no particular schedule and had many people ducking scattered debris as it impacted.

    My Slavic roots overrule my Irish and Germanic ones so it’s the vodka. Great stuff, can’t smell it in your breath the day after and it removes bugs from windshields.

  3. Zauber says:

    Perish the thought – if it gets that bad I’m drinking, not driving

  4. Zauber says:

    AAAAARRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!! It just won’t go away. Now the Russian commissar in charge of bullshit excuses is trying to blame US radar for knocking that Z80-based Lada out of orbit. My ex-wife’s lawyer must be in charge of the investigation.

  5. Zauber says:

    Let’s just guess, for academic sakes, that there are radars that would shine on spaceborne Ruskie rubbish. They would not be of a power that would cause any EMP-like failures in their systems. Russians used tube equipment for decades in their fighters and bombers to resist the EMP from US AA missiles that they might encounter in an attack on the US mainland. They also used super powerful radars in their attack fighters as they found it easier on an engineering level to try and burn through our micro-computer-based jamming that was of a more efficient type but on a lower power. They also have effective shielding on their craft to deal with the exo-atmospheric radiations and the leaky crap from their on-board nuke generator. If they would have feared damage from the alleged US radars,which they’d have already cataloged, they’d have bought a few extra rolls of tin foil at Gums to shield the on-board X-Box 360 they used to control it. That’s whatthey get for using engineers from Patrice Lumumba University.

    • It’s not the engineers who were the problem, at least not before they sent the good ones to work camps as punishment. The whole project was underfunded and overambitious. Bad management, as always. It’s just crazy that they would blame US radar. Like you say, even if that were a threat (which it’s totally NOT) they’re admitting they’re too incompetent to shield against it, OR the far-more-likely high energy particle threat from the deep space environment. Either way they are showing a lot of arrogance and incompetence. Just like the old days, comrade!

  6. Menagerie says:

    I hope now that this crisis is over you will have time to devote to your rodent problem. Seriously, my husband and I kept checking your post several mornings in a row. Thanks for keeping us updated and educated.

  7. Zauber says:

    Ahhhhh, my rats are largely taken care of by coyotes and bobcats but the beavers and nutria stay in the water and the predators haven’t quite figured out how to row my bateau in unison – that damned opposable thumb thing. 90-pound beavers and 10-pound nutria are eating my tree farm to death and trying to undermine the damn on my lake. And I thought I’d left the freeloading rat problem behind when I left the Big City. Maybe I can work out a foreign exchange program with the island…….

    • Maybe… but the beavers wouldn’t be very happy on that treeless island. They’re pretty happy around here, though. Got lots of them down in the creek and up in the mountains. No nutria(or rats), though. Too cold in Colorado. And that’s fine with me.

  8. Zauber says:

    Nutria is a populated place located in Archuleta County at latitude 37.231 and longitude -107.126. Nutria local area photos.The elevation is 7,123 feet. Nutria appears on the Lonetree Canyon U.S. Geological Survey Map. Archuleta County is in the Mountain Time Zone (UTC -7 hours). Observes daylight savings time.

    Couldn’t help it, the devil made me do it.

    Colorado, eh? Does that mean you are a Phantom canyon afficionado, a Bull & Bush (Cherry Creek) habitué or do you mingle with the students making the free tastings at New Belgium? Best state in the union for craft beers and the Sandlot at Coors Field is my favorite beer and baseball field bar none.
    Both tree-eating rodents cook up nicely – presently trying to get Chef Prudhomme to part with his recipe for apple smoked nutria (he used to serve it). If Obama’s going to have us turning over rocks and stabbing our dinner with point-ed sticks one might as well dine out with class.

    • I completely agree about making the most of the post-Obama stone-age menu. And I wouldn’t mind tasting Chef Prudhomme’s Nutria. Or anything else good in the NOLA area. But sadly, I’ve never been.

      You’re right about the craft beer bonanza here. Coors Field is the best, but it’s hard to pick a favorite brew. Here in Parker, we have an Elk Mountain brewery, but New Belgium in Fort Collins is awfully good. Many others as well. Sipping some Bulleit Bourbon at the moment. ‘Cause it’s late and all.

      What is your favorite Louisiana vice? I trust you not to say the Hurricanes somewhere. Are there any good local beers?

  9. Zauber says:

    There’s only one vice I can’t do without and still have to go back to NOLA to wallow in – food. The older and smaller mom-and-pop venues that used to really make the food here, smallish eateries buried in family grocery stores and on back streets, were swept away in Katrina. If you ignore the posers and neo-imposters who’ve come in to bastardize the old creole menus there is still a lot of really great food here. Emeril’s a great guy, treats his staff well, but he’s not creole. Commander’s is still the flagship here and the launching pad for a long line of international chefs. The Brennen family has become the Mickey-Ds of local tourista food, they have more restaurants downtown than BK and McD’s combined.

    My sons lived in Denver and I did some work under the domes at Lowrey. Only one left there now, others all moved.. One son and I did set an informal record at the Piney Creek Grill a few years back in total amount of Fat Tire consumed in six hours. Other son was a brewer at Sandlot and Bull&Bush and a gold medal winner at the GABF (judged there too). He’s here now making homebrew at my house in a dry Mississippi county.

    There are a few microbreweries in the city – one German one in the quarter that’s just about half a step above canned. Some newbies are starting up but locals are not at the craft-brew level that you all are. There are some micros starting up in the white-flight suburbs on the north-shore of Lake Pontchartrain and the Abita regional brewery makes what’s the standard beer (not that bad) for the area. Sourmash whiskey and dark, heavy beer – beats a wall of Gro-Lites for SAD.

    • I’m not kidding. I need to know how much Fat Tire you and the son consumed in 6 hours. Reason being that I know an engineer who drank an obscene number of pitchers of it in Boulder with his girlfriend one time. I need to check, but I think it was something humanly impossible, like 17. He was probably exaggerating, though.

      Glad to know they have some decent dark beer down there, but the 2 things I’d love to experience in NO are the food, as you say, and the music. I’m a fan of Joe Sample (who lives in East Texas, but performs there sometimes). The others, of course, like Dr. John. Leon Redbone. But the food! My dad spent a lot of time there and came home determined to reproduce some of the recipes. It didn’t work out too well. I kept telling him, “You can’t find any seafood stock because you got to make it yourself. Get some fish and shrimp carcasses and cook it down, Pop!” I’ve heard the stories, and I just have to taste it for myself.

      You must be proud of your son, the brewmaster! BTW, I’m a little familiar with the part of Mississippi you’re talking about. Not personally, but I worked for Lockheed for over 20 years, and we had the Michoud plant down there near Stennis that made the Shuttle external tanks.

  10. Zauber says:

    Yep, I worked for the USDA at the Michoud facility – it wasn’t rocket science. Plant’s closed now, as we are transferring our technology and launch capacity to the Russian’s German scientists. Gawd, I wouldn’t want to roller skate at Baikonur never mind sit on top of one of their lowest-bidder monster we-are-too-far-north-so-we-gotta-make-’em-bigger rockets. Guess the plant and program folded as they couldn’t find any EEO scientists and engineers from SUNO – but I digress.

    Yep, my guru in local cooking is still Paul Prudhomme – I’m trying to get his apple smoked nutria recipe right right now. i was friends with one of his earliest prep cooks who convinced me not to be afraid and just cook – damn it – just cook. As long as the dog will at least eat it you aren’t a total failure. Over the years through one of my wife’s activities we managed to stay with the established and up-and-coming female chefs and that’s been foodie heaven. We are planning on going back into town next week for lunch at K-Paul’s – he has developed a muffaletta soup. Goin’ out fo’ a french fry po-boy, dressed, wid gravey, and a Abita Amber – gonna sit on da’ bench (Glock by my side) out by the Seabrook and n-joy.

    As for the Fat Tire we each consumed a minimum 36 bottles in a wee bit over 6 hours – an average of one every ten minutes. The waitress had started removing bottles in the beginning so a full count is not available. The stuff drank like water and we ate too but there were some other younger AF airmen there and the old Army sergeant had a rep to uphold – the chugging challenges are what raised the count. Not bad but not a record except for the more sedate sippers in Piney Creek. Doesn’t hurt to have a combo Slavic-Germanic liver either. One of New Belgium’s better brews.

    They knew us at the Bull & Bush too, we’d usually hold mixed beer and shooters marathons and then end up at a bar we called The Dirty Sheet. It had an old sheet it hung across the window after closing so that the cops wouldn’t know (yeah, right) that social misfits were still in there drinking. It was a desperation move as they only sold draft beer in pitchers but you Arapahoe types are really Puritan on drinking hours . We’d then go some late-night Mexican drive-through (in your area) with a name like Burrito Supreme and buy a laundry sack full of Mexican food. Talk about over-taxing the Smokey Hills sewer system…

    Dr John should be canonized, he is the Saint of Funk. I have every album/CD he’s ever put out and I blasted his music on deployments from Egypt to Korea. When I die I wanna be buried with Goin Back to New Orleans and Creole Moon playing in my coffin. I see him at venues every now and then and feel a sense of fulfillment that I haven’t felt since I voted for Reagan. Screw Newt, Rebennack for president. Put Mac on the speakers and aim them, full blast, at every Mosque in Muslimland. Bit i digress…

    BTW, that was at Buckley, not Lowrey – blame it on the lateness of the hour and the goodness of the Dickel.Barrel Select.

    • Weeeeeeelllllll, that’s a different story. Buckley is just down the road from Grunt Manor, and one of our favorite Irish Pubs is just off Smokey Hill Road. Taking the back way, it’s just a few minutes from home. Me and the missus love to drink up there, but we’d never hold up very well against your drinking prowess. If that son is still in the area, and you ever come visit, let me know, and we’ll provide a place to drink after the stupid puritanical bars close up. And we’ll play Dr. John fer ya! I would show you the rocket plant up behind the hogback, but I don’t have a badge anymore, so you’d have to settle for drinkin’, I guess.

      • Zauber says:

        Yep, there’s a whole lotta drinkin’ places along S. Buckley, helps to have something to do when the wife’s shopping in the strip malls. My drinking prowess has declined with age and diabetes though I’m willing to chance the loss of a toe or finger if the booze is good. Hmmmmm, Irish pub…Irish Car Bombs…. The Bull&Bush is a nice place (Cherry Creek) if the owners haven’t run it totally into the ground. One would presume that with the influx of Calafornicators the drinking, if not drugging and beastiality, constraints would have been loosened. I mean, I live in a dry county but I know where I can get a drink. Looks like one of those calls for concerned patriot action – “24/7 OR FIGHT!
        One son’s still there, one’s in Dallas and the other’s here but when/if I have to fly back in I’ll definitely let you know, I do not like to fly that much anymore, it’s expensive, uncomfortable and if I want to get felt-up by strangers I can do it more cheaply by going to the Quarter during Mardi Gras. I can still get into Buckley but for some damned reason it’s all full of kids now. Damned entropy.

      • That’s great. The Bull&Bush is still there, but it’s a 30 minute drive up that way, and it’s fairly close to Shotgun Willie’s, which is another kind of temptation. If you end up at Buckley, say ‘hi’ to the Lt. Col. in charge of the flight line, who’s a friend of mine, but he’s also a dang kid. Can’t be more than 35, but a good man who just got back from Iraq last year. Look forward to seeing you some time.

  11. Zauber says:

    While you’re following space junk have you been watching the Chinese timeline for their space program? Note that we’ve transferred docking technology so that they can dock with the International Space Station. They’ve since said ‘thanks’ for the info but prefer to build their own station and will most likely change the docking setup so that they will be the only ones to be able to use it. They’ve announced an ambitious project to get a Chinese astronaut to Mars – maybe a translation problem but they didn’t mention getting him back Maybe they misunderstood NASA’s Hundred Year Starship program.
    If I go to Buckley now it’s for the BX, left all of that stuff to the kids when i retired.

  12. M Simon says:

    OT –
    Count. If you want some help/advice re: your circuit board project contact me. Addy on the sidebar of “Power and Control”

    • I appreciate that, MS! Since you offer, I may occasionally contact you with stupid circuit design or battery questions. When my dear Pop died 2 years ago, I also lost my go-to guy for all such electronics questions. He was a genius color TV engineer with RCA his whole career. I am just an aerospace engineer with enough of a controls background to be dangerous. Muchas gracias!

  13. What is this, science or some shit? I’m sorry but WTH.

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