Binar-1, named after Noongar word for fireball, will become a fireball itself as it drops deeper into the atmosphere and burns up.
The spacecraft will be completely destroyed before it reaches Earth’s surface. While the exact place and time of re-entry are difficult to predict, if it were to re-enter over an inhabited area, it would be noticeable as a brief “shooting star” in the night sky.
Binar-1 was deployed into space on October 6 2021 from the International Space Station. It initially orbited around 400km above the Earth’s surface, and above most – but importantly, not all – of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The spacecraft operated in orbit for eleven days, with signals detected from ground stations around the world. The signals, as well as confirming that Binar-1 was intact and powered up, included beacon messages and some data about the spacecraft’s systems. Unfortunately, the team was not able to access images or more complete data. Binar-1’s last confirmed transmission was on November 2, 2021.
Over the past year, the spacecraft has experienced a small but significant amount of air resistance. This slows the spacecraft down, which causes it to orbit lower, which in turn causes the drag to increase more.
By the end of September, Binar-1’s orbit had dropped to around 250km, and was predicted to re-enter over the first weekend in October. By Monday morning, we had identified Binar-1’s last confirmed orbit, at 2:43 AM AWST. At an altitude of just 150km, it would have re-entered within hours.