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ISRO Guides LVM3 M3 Rocket to Re-entry into atmosphere: Ensures Space Debris Mitigation and Sustainability Goals - In Bulletin

 On June 14, 2024, the skies above the Indian Ocean witnessed a spectacular event as the cryogenic upper stage of the LVM3 M3/OneWeb-2 India mission suscessfully re-entered Earth’s atmosphere. This event marked a journey that began on March 26, 2023, when the rocket stage propelled 36 OneWeb satellites into a precise orbit 450 kilometers above the Earth’s surface.


ISRO Guides LVM3 M3 Rocket to Re-entry into atmosphere: Ensures Space Debris Mitigation and Sustainability Goals - In Bulletin

Before its re-entry, preparations were made to ensure the safe disposal of the nearly 3-ton rocket body, identified by NORAD ID 56082. The stage was carefully passivated, a process involving the depletion of excess fuel to mitigate any risk of accidental fragmentation—a standard practice that reflects India's commitment to responsible space exploration.


Scientists and engineers at ISRO had forecasted the re-entry to occur within a specific window from 14:35 UTC to 15:05 UTC, with the most likely splashdown estimated at 14:55 UTC over the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean. During its descent, only the hardiest components—such as gas bottles, nozzles, and tanks engineered from materials with exceptionally high melting points—were expected to withstand the intense heat generated by atmospheric friction.


Tracking the upper stage's final descent was a collaborative effort involving ISRO's Multi-object Tracking Radar (MOTR) stationed at Sriharikota. The radar's data was crucial in accurately predicting the re-entry trajectory, ensuring precise monitoring and safe management through ISRO's IS4OM facility in Bengaluru. This careful oversight aligned with international guidelines, including the UN's space debris mitigation standards, underscoring India's commitment to sustainable space practices.


The disposal of the LVM3-M3 rocket body also underscored India's proactive approach outlined in the Debris Free Space Missions (DFSM) initiative. This initiative, championed during the 42nd Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee meeting, mandates that space objects operating in Low Earth Orbit return to Earth within five years post-mission. Chairman ISRO/Secretary of DOS emphasized this commitment, setting ambitious goals for all Indian space entities to adhere to these guidelines by 2030.


Read more: GSAT-N2: India's Next Communication Satellite to Transform Broadband and In-Flight Connectivity.


In summary, the successful re-entry of the LVM3-M3 rocket stage not only highlighted India's technological prowess but also its dedication to fostering a sustainable space environment. This achievement serves as a beacon of innovation and responsibility in the global space community, showcasing ISRO's capability to navigate the complexities of space exploration while safeguarding our planet's orbital pathways for future generations.


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