RE: Sputnik 1

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Sat Aug 02 2008 - 11:55:00 UTC

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    George Olshevsky wrote:
    > The shroud was a single piece, unlike all shrouds nowadays, 
    > which are in two (or more) pieces. A two-piece shroud may be 
    > jettisoned laterally as soon as the launch vehicle leaves the 
    > atmosphere while it is still firing, relieving it of dead 
    > weight. But a single-piece "nose cone" has to remain attached 
    > to the launch vehicle until orbital injection, at which time 
    > it is blown off and becomes a separate piece of orbiting 
    > debris in a slightly higher orbit than the satellite it 
    > protected. The Sputnik 1 nose cone was not catalogued by 
    > Space Track, but early issues of "Space Log" list it as an 
    > orbited object from that launch. Being light in weight and 
    > having a relatively large surface area, it probably decayed 
    > within a few weeks after the launch. It would have been the 
    > second-brightest object from the launch, being considerably 
    > larger than the satellite itself.
    SAO Special Report 10, issued in March 1958, lists 8 nose cone (1957 Alpha 3)
    observations during 1957 Oct 15-24 UTC, made by 6 observers on as many passes.
    One observation is denoted as doubtful. 
    The introduction states, "... a3 [Alpha 3] are observations that do not lie on
    the a2 [Alpha 2, which is the Sputnik satellite] curve but instead seem to form
    an orbit of their own. Possibly those "a3" observations are of the nose cone of
    the carrier rocket."
    Ted Molczan
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