I’m aware of NOTAMS (notice to airmen) which are issued for launches of rockets, as for example mentioned in this answer. The same seems to be the case for deorbiting second stages (see here and here).

On September 8, a video taken by the pilots of flight LX178 from Zurich to Singapore was released by Swiss Radio and Television (twitter). It appears that the pilots were surprised (first thinking of a meteor) and thus were not aware of the re-entry of Soyuz MS-04 on September 3.

Are scheduled re-entries such as for Soyuz announced in advance and does it have consequences on commercial aviation?

-- external link to news article in German


2 Answers 2


For at least some vehicles, yes.

This blog post discusses a re-entry event. Although it was initially misidentified, it confirms that the second stage reentry of some Soyuz craft do get placed on a NOTAM (although perhaps with such a large window of time as to be less useful). The author states that NOTAMs are common for launch vehicle re-entry.

NOTAMS or Area Warnings are however generally only issued for controlled de-orbits, and first and second stage splashdowns during launches.

A Nasaspaceflight forum post discussed the specific NOTAM that was sent for the ATV-3 vehicle re-entry in 2012.

B4742/12 - DANGER AREA NZD021 (AUCKLAND OCEANIC FIR) ACT. SFC - FL999, 03 OCT 00:30 2012 UNTIL 03 OCT 03:35 2012. CREATED: 27 SEP 20:21 2012

This one seems to be much more useful with a 3-hour window.


Everything about a mission its scheduled, but the re-entries of any space vehicle relies on pre-re-entire, meaning they have to do checks and re-checks, and the angle of descent its a lot more important then position. And of course there are a lot more that comes in to consideration. But in the case of the article, they might wanted for the Soyuz to go trough there. Its almost impossible to present a danger, especially being that rare. In the situation, which the article presents, the Soyuz (with 2.4 km/s or 28,000 mph at 135 km altitude) would appear! above a commercial plane, but would land a long way away.

  • $\begingroup$ So, is it announced in advance, or not? $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2017 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ I also had the impression that the distance and height difference between the observing aircraft and the Soyuz was large. But at some point, the capsule would cross the flight levels of aircraft. So the question still is if air traffic would be regulated there. I find it hard to believe that they would just hope that nothing happens, even if a close encounter is rare. $\endgroup$
    – Thomas W.
    Dec 19, 2017 at 3:23
  • $\begingroup$ The trajectory of any free falling object, which doesn't want to burn in atmosphere, must not be at a steep angle. And because of height, that translates in a long period of descent, and a long distance to travel. I am sorry for not able to be more technical, or whit a better grammar, but this is my forth language. $\endgroup$
    – Iron Gen
    Dec 22, 2017 at 9:34

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