Skip Navigation Links
New Analysis of Russian ASAT: Updated Time of Event
06/17/2022 | Jim Cooper, Dan Oltrogge, Pete Zimmer | News

COMSPOC continues to analyze the November 15 Russian ASAT event.  COMSPOC initially estimated the intercept impact time occurred between 0246-0248 UTC. This was is based on early analysis, recognizing that the launch time of the ASAT weapon was not available.  Click here for more information and our ealier blog:  COMSPOC® - News Detail.

On November 30, the DoD began to catalog and make publicly available via space-track.org the first set of resulting debris objects, along with their associated two-line element sets (TLEs).  For our analysis (completed on December 1) there are 185 newly-cataloged objects.  Here is a subset of those objects depicted shortly after the intercept.

 

Working with this published information, and using the original, pre-intercept, orbit information for the ASAT’s target, Cosmos 1408 (Satellite number 13552 in the DoD Satellite Catalog available on space-track.org), COMSPOC performed subsequent analysis to determine the debris origin point (corresponding to the impact time).  Over the span of the analysis, at a prescribed time step (initially once per minute over 8 hours and then 100ms intervals in a 5 minute span), we measured the out-of-plane distance and the radial (as a proxy for in-plane) distance for each piece of debris to the parent (pre-collision) TLE position.  An overall distance measurement was then computed as the square root of the sum of the squares of these two distances.

Working with this published information, and using the original, pre-intercept, orbit information for the ASAT’s target, Cosmos 1408 (Satellite number 13552 in the DoD Satellite Catalog available on space-track.org), COMSPOC performed subsequent analysis to determine the debris origin point (corresponding to the impact time).  Over the span of the analysis, at a prescribed time step (initially once per minute over 8 hours and then 100ms intervals in a 5 minute span), we measured the out-of-plane distance and the radial (as a proxy for in-plane) distance for each piece of debris to the parent (pre-collision) TLE position.  An overall distance measurement was then computed as the square root of the sum of the squares of these two distances.

Realizing the initial orbit determinations following a breakup event can involve significant uncertainty, we selected out only those pieces that came within within 0.25km cross-track and 3 km radially of the parent satellite.  Here is a representation of the cross-track component only for those cataloged debris pieces that made the cut -- 76 of the 185.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Credit:  Pete Zimmer, JTMA

 

As can be seen, compiling these distances produced a common minimum point -- which corresponds to the impact time.  The resulting time of impact we estimate using this approach is 15Nov/02:47:31.5 UTC.

Note that this time falls within our initial estimated range of 0246-0248, providing a notional confirmation of our early assumptions and modeling regarding this event. 

Now that we have determined the specific impact time, COMSPOC will be able to add increased rigor to its simulations as we continue our analysis.  Stay tuned!