NFIRE satellite re-entry caught on camera


Fazanavard فضانورد
Apr 5, 2015
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MILITARY SATELLITE RE-ENTRY: The Taurid meteor shower is active, but not every fireball is a Taurid. Paul Nelson was watching the auroras over Marquette, Michigan, on Nov. 4th when he saw strange lights overhead. "There were between 10 and 20 objects of some type flying slowly across the sky from West to East and burning up upon entering the atmosphere," says Nelson. "Fortunately one of my cameras captured it."

Observers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and other parts of Michigan witnessed a similar display. Satellite expert Ted Molczan explains what they saw: "The passage of the trail through the bowl of the Big Dipper in Nelson's photo closely matches my estimate of the re-entry trajectory of NFIRE, a military satellite that decayed on Nov. 4th."

NFIRE, short for the Near-Field Infrared Experiment, was launched in 2007 aboard a Minotaur rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia. Its mission for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency was to monitor missile launches and collect data on exhaust plumes from rockets. Originally, NFIRE was supposed to carry a demonstration kill vehicle for anti-missile defense. Before launch, however, that aspect of the mission was abandoned and NFIRE went to space without a projectile experiment. NFIRE was retired in August 2015 after more than 8 years in space.


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Taken by Paul Nelson on November 4, 2015 @ Marquette, Michigan, USA

Camera Used: Canon Canon EOS 6D
Exposure Time: 20/1
Aperture: Unavailable
ISO: 2500
Date Taken: 2015:11:04 09:52:16

I was sitting on a bench watching the Aurora show while my cameras were set up behind me to photograph the Aurora with me in the image when I saw a bright light overhead and when I looked there were between 10 and 20 objects of some type flying slowly across the sky from West to East and burning up upon entering the atmosphere. It was one of the strangest things Ive ever witnessed. Fortunately one of my cameras captured it.

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Taken by Ed Hendrickson on November 4, 2015 @ Glenwood City, Wisconsin, USA

Camera Used: Canon Canon EOS REBEL T3i
Exposure Time: 16/1
Aperture: Unavailable
ISO: 3200
Date Taken: 2015:11:05 16:54:10


Watching for Taurids Fireballs from our deck in Glenwood City Wisc and at 3:56 am local captured this broken up fireball with smaller bright pieces all flying in formation and it looked to continue off to my east northeast for as far as I could see

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Taken by Mike Gady on November 4, 2015 @ Boyne City, MI

Camera Used: Canon Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XSi
Exposure Time: 23/1
Aperture: f/4.5
ISO: 1600
Date Taken: 2015:11:04 04:57:34


Multiple objects disintegrating and burning up in a group. Slow movement noted.
Wed, 4 Nov 2015 09:05:42 -0500

The American Meteor Society has received ten reports of a long-duration fireball observed on 2015 Nov 04 UTC near 10:00 UTC, that correlate with the re-entry of NFIRE (2007-014A / 31140). The sightings occurred in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Two Line Element Set (TLE):
1 31140U 07014A   15308.35526193  .14088985  12207-4  15928-3 0  9999
2 31140  48.3944  35.0697 0003965 277.8252 164.0202 16.50014489484019

NORAD ID: 31140
Int'l Code: 2007-014A
Perigee: 143.9 km
Apogee: 149.0 km
Inclination: 48.4 °
Period: 87.3 minutes
Semi major axis: 6517 km
RCS: 1.0597 m2 (large)
Launch date: April 24, 2007
Source: United States (US)
NFIRE is classified as: Military
NFIRE is a data-gathering research satellite for the U.S. missile defense program.


NFIRE at 9:57:34 UTC, made with,....50014489484019%0A&tz=UTC&y=20151104095735000
Last edited:


Jul 21, 2012
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This satellite reentry was intentional, right? Is there any possibility some large debris made it to the ground?