Decay of Cosmos 398

Rainer Kracht (
Sat, 23 Dec 95 20:25 +0100

Decay of Cosmos 398

I have found this at

12/11 Russian Satellite Re-Entry Into Pacific Ocean

     Fragments of an old Soviet satellite, named Cosmos 398, may have
     plunged into the Pacific Ocean southeast of Hawaii on Sunday
     re-entering earth's atmosphere.

     The two-ton research craft, launched nearly 25 years ago, penetrated
     the atmosphere at 11:09 p.m. Moscow time on Sunday (2009 GMT) and was
     destroyed by heat.

     Russian military space forces had said last week some fragments
     weighing more than 200 kg (440 lb) might reach the Earth's surface
     although its main bulk would burn up.

     Some parts of the satellite's engine and oxygen containers, made of
     metal capable of withstanding high temperatures, had been expected to
     come down.

     Cosmos-398 was launched in February, 1971, from Baikonur Cosmodrome
     carrying the prototype of an engine which Soviet scientists hoped
     would be able to fire a rocket to the Moon.

     The vehicle operated for four days and was then moved into an outer
     orbit as space junk.

---end of text from

J.M.Marchant wrote in latest/1301:

>Subject: Direct observation of Cosmos 398 reentry
>Date: Tue, 19 Dec 1995 11:19:09 +0000
>From: "J.M.Marchant" <>

>We've just got the latest (Dec 18/25) Aviation Week here: it says that 
>Cosmos 398 "was observed entering the atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean 
>by a U.S. Air Force/TRW Defense Support Program (DSP) missile warning 
>satellite in geosynchronous orbit". It goes on to say that "it fell into 
>the atmosphere and impacted about 200 miles north of the Falkland Islands
>at 2040 GMT".

Possibly several parts (at least two?) decayed between 20:09 and 20:40 UTC.

Rainer Kracht   1995 Dec 23