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Tristan Cools, Brugge, Belgium

I just read the SeeSat-L message from Neil Clifford's obs of ERS 2 and the second object which followed ERS 2. Just as I wanted to stop observing yesterday evening I saw by coincidence 2 bright mag +2 objects moving from omega UMA in the direction of h&X Per. Taking a closer look I remarked that the second object (which followed the first object in 9.4s) wasn't steady at all. It remained quite bright for a while but suddenly decreased in brightness untill it was invisible. Later it became as bright again as the first object. Although I didn't have elements yet I was thinking already on the ERS 2 satellite and its rocket. The second object must have been the Ariane third stage. It had a flash period of 44s but it was quite impressive !

It seems that they put the rocket in a slightly higher and more excentric orbit(cfr Spot and ERS 1) after it has put its payload(s?) into orbit. So that's why it gets behind on its payload.(it moves slower) The Russians do it otherwhise with their Kosmos and Zenit boosters. Two months after launch of the 94-23A, I could see the rocket preceeding its payload with 12.3s. This means that they put their final stages in a slightly lower orbit (maybe to prevent any possible collision whith each other). I haven't seen ERS 2 and its rocket since because of bad weather. Maybe some other observers have ?



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