GPS Solutions

, 23:30 | Cite as

GNSS potential to monitor unsuccessful spacecraft launches

  • Geliy A. Zherebtsov
  • Natalia P. PerevalovaEmail author
Original Article


Using GPS signals we studied TEC disturbances caused by unsuccessful spacecraft launches from Baikonur space center in 1999 and 2006–2016. We considered 15 unsuccessful launches. Six of them were launches into unplanned orbits. Nine launches failed, they ended with the destruction of the launch vehicle and spacecraft during ascent. It is shown that there is a considerable difference in the shapes of TEC disturbances in the ionosphere during launches into unplanned orbits and failed launches. Launches into unplanned orbits caused TEC disturbances in the form of single pulses similar to disturbances during successful launches. Failed launches generated TEC disturbances in the form of wave packets typical of explosions. The revealed effect provides the possibility to determine if the failed launch was followed by the catastrophic destruction of the launch vehicle and spacecraft using data of the ionosphere sounding with GNSS signals.


GPS TEC Ionosphere Ionospheric disturbances Spacecraft launch 



The authors express their deep appreciation to the Scripps Orbit and Permanent Array Center (SOPAC, and the UNAVCO Data Center ( for the data from international networks of GNSS receivers. The work was performed with budgetary funding of Basic Research program II.16.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics SB RASIrkutskRussia

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