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I have this problem with SGP4 propagation, that I hope someone can help me out with.

I acquired a TLE of the ISS from internet and used the C++ SGP4 propagator to compute future position and velocity vectors of the Station. I am unsure about some aspects of results though and would like to get some explanations.

The TLE data looks like this :

1 25544U 98067A 14296.89020256 .00021128 00000-0 36676-3 0 2914

2 25544 51.6464 181.6097 0002420 294.7068 172.8232 15.50795889911298

2 25544 51.6464 181.6097 0002420 294.7068 172.8232 15.50795889911298

The settingss I use for the propagator are :

opsmode = i (improved)

typerun = m (manual)

typeinput = m (mfe - minutes from epoch)

I set SGP4 to propagate for 120 minutes after the initial moment in 10 minutes steps. The results are stored in 13 rows ( one for each computation from Tstart to Tend, once every 10 minutes ). It would look really messy to paste the results here, so I will only copy the last line.

R(x) = 4628.43055298

R(y) = 2891.92246591

R(z) = -3530.26416981

V(x) = -5.504313283

V(y) = 3.379764650

V(z) = -4.417716694

Time = 1995 12 61 23:31:53.501202

R(y) = 2891.92246591

R(z) = -3530.26416981

V(x) = -5.504313283

V(y) = 3.379764650

V(z) = -4.417716694

Time = 1995 12 61 23:31:53.501202

**So, my questions now :**

- Position

I reckoned calculating magnitude of R will result in distance of ISS from the Earth center ( or altitude, if you subtract Earth radius ). But calculating magnitude of this final set of data (posted above) results in a magnitude of approx. 6500 km, which is obviously too small value since we know ISS doesn't orbit the Earth at an altitude of about 100 km. Moreover, if I propagate just two more time steps ( +20 min ) I get error 6 - satellite has decayed. Why such a quick drop in altitude after propagating 140 minutes in future, which is a little more than an orbit and a half for ISS ?

- Time

The last column is supposed to give the time of that particular computation. TLE epoch cell ( 14296.89020256 ) says the year is 2014 at 296th day of the year. But results seem to set the time at 61st December 1995 . Why such result ?

Thank you very much and kind regards

T