Image of John Vasquez of the Naval Research Laboratory John Vasquez of the Naval Research Laboratory prepares Starshine 1 for vibration test. Photo by
Michael A. Savell.

Starshine 3 Re-entry Bulletin -Jan 24, 2003

We now believe that Starshine 3 burned up in the the earth's upper atmosphere sometime between 0504 and 0519 UTC on January 21, 2003. It had made 7434 revolutions around the earth between the date of its launch from Kodiak, Alaska, on September 29, 2001, and its fiery end on January 21, 2003. The exact location of its flameout is still uncertain, but we know that its final half orbit carried it in a northeasterly direction over the states of California, Nevada, Idaho and Montana in the U.S., then across the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in western Canada, then in an easterly direction across Hudson's Bay, Baffin Island and the southern tip of Greenland.

Click here to view a ground trace of that half orbit. Click here to view the final Starshine 3 re-entry assessments from the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the Aerospace Corporation and Mr. Harro Zimmer of Berlin, Germany. Since all of that path was in darkness, and the first portion of is well-populated, we had high hopes that someone would see the satellite blazing across the sky. However, to this time we have had no confirmed sightings. Overcast skies and coastal fog in California denied a number of eager observers in that area an opportunity to see it.

We're still hoping for some delayed reports, so if you sighted the re-entry fireball, please send an email to the Starshine project director at In your message, please state your location when you saw it, as precisely as possible, and give us a narrative description of the appearance and description of the fireball. If you also obtained one or more images of it, please include that information in your message, together with your name, email address and telephone number. You will be contacted immediately and given information on where to send your image or images for evaluation by our panel of astrophotographers.

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Last Updated: January 25, 2003