The filmmaker and lead producer of the Mir Reentry Expedition, a collaboration with NASA and RadioShack Corp., comments on the similarities and differences between the two major reentry events.
DENVER, CO / ACCESSWIRE / May 14, 2021 / David Effress, lead producer of the Mir Reentry Expedition, was tasked with documenting and streaming the controlled reentry of Russia’s Mir Space Station near the Fiji Islands 20 years ago. Mr. Effress compares the event to China’s rocket re-entry this week.
Once the largest human-made object in space, the Russian space station Mir reentered Earth’s atmosphere in March 2001. Mir was an 11-year-old spacecraft, already more than five years beyond its expected lifespan. Ultimately, Russia induced their craft to dip into Earth’s atmosphere, where it met its fiery end above the South Pacific.
“We chartered a jet to get the team to the best altitude, and we were able to secure a remote satellite uplink station on the Island of Fiji to send the high definition video up to the satellite,” said David Effress. “At the time, we ‘broke the internet,’ as they say, because of the overwhelming demand for the stream. For much of the 24-hour period, we were the most searched item on the internet, and the most visited.”
Debris from Mir’s 138-ton, 100-foot-long complex fell into a planned target zone between New Zealand and Chile, which was chosen to minimize the risk of injuries or damage to property.
By contrast, Jonathan McDowell at Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics described this week’s uncontrolled return of CZ-5B as “bigger than anything recent.” China’s Long March 5 rockets are known as “heavy-lift vehicles.” Public intellectuals and spaceflight experts, such as McDowell, kept watch this past weekend over the trajectory of the falling core from CZ-5B.
Effress said, “The Mir reentry was pretty well-calculated, and the general reentry area was known well in advance. Although the trajectory of the CZ-5B was less certain, I read Jonathan McDowell’s interview and I liked the way he explained the risk assessment. After reading the interview, and based on what I learned while working on the Mir expedition, it seemed like the debris field, if any, would most likely end up out at sea, posing little threat.”
Some suggest an uncontrollable reentry can be planned. McDowell said in a tweet: “Before the CZ-5B started flying there were NO ‘by design’ uncontrolled reentries above 10 tonnes since 1990.”
“All things considered, it was a good outcome,” Effress said.
About David Effress:
David Effress is a filmmaker, photographer, and builder/developer. He lives with his wife, Inna Effress, and their three children.
SOURCE: David Effress