Re: Geostationary and Repositionable?

From: Allen Thomson (
Date: Tue Apr 25 2000 - 12:38:29 PDT

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    Routersaurus Rex asked,
    > Can a Geostationary sat be repositioned?
    > Not simple station keeping, but moved thousands of kilometers to another
    > position?
    Sure, easily, by doing a small thruster burn to change its period from exact
    geosynchronicity, letting it "drift" to the new location (which is what the
    operators actually call the operation) and then doing a reciprocal burn to
    restore the period to 1 rev/day.  IIRC, LES-9 was moved most of the way
    around the planet to cover Desert Storm in this way.
    > Seems to me a GS sat would make a good spy platform if it could be moved
    > about, of course the extreme altitude would cause difficulties.
    The US' GEO SIGINT platforms have been known to shift around a bit, and
    there's a developing story about a GEO satellite inspector that drifts
    around looking at/listening to other satellites.   Optical reconnaissance of
    the ground from GEO would need a pretty big aperture, though a Hubble-class
    mirror could get 10-meter SPOT-like pictures.
    > Oh, another thing, are there *any* satellites that in equitorial orbits
    > circle the earth to the west?
    No, there are some that are seriously retrograde (the Israeli Ofeq
    satellites, for example), but none really close to 180 degree inclination
    that I know of.
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