vulgarity to the nth power, how do you know what you can see?

Walter Nissen (dk058@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Wed, 2 Dec 1998 20:10:19 -0500 (EST)

It isn't bad enough that we have confusion over vulgar names, now my 
e-mail presents serial evidence that we have confusion about the nature 
and extent of the confusion itself.  In the hope that all this confusion 
can be confined and minimized, I post some details. 
Let me preface this with a warning that vulgar names are slippery, nasty, 
and undependable.  If you seriously want to be understood, please use the 
catalog number and the COSPAR id also. 
I downloaded four well-known files of Iridial elsets.  Then I inserted 
line-ends as needed.  Then I stripped out only the catalog number, from 
"line 1" of each elset, and the main part of the vulgar name, eliminating 
the additional information from "line 0".  In one of the files, this last 
step might have been a big pain had there been more than 99 vehicle 
numbers (3-digit numbers), because there the descriptive info intrudes 
into the name, without maintenance of the columns. 
With 2 exceptions, the catalog numbers in each file are all the same and 
all in the same order; Kelso includes the 2 simulated vehicles which 
tested a dispenser mechanism.  I didn't check the COSPAR ids.  Hopefully, 
they are also consistent.  I also didn't check the orbits, and thus the 
identity of the objects.  Hopefully, they, too, are all consistent. 
Then I compared the vulgar names from the 4 files, ignoring case.  I found 
numerous differences: 
a) spaces stripped from the vehicle number, 
b) leading zeroes fronting the vehicle number, 
c) vehicle numbers interchanged in 3 pairs, 
    9 and 10 
   18 and 20 
   24 and 46 
Here are excerpts which show all the name differences I found: 
TS Kelso's         Mike McCants'      NASA OIG's         Alan Pickup's 
iridium.txt        iridium.tle        Iridium report     iridiums.tle 
24792IRIDIUM 08    24792Iridium 8     24792IRIDIUM 8     24792Iridium 8 
24793IRIDIUM 07    24793Iridium 7     24793IRIDIUM 7     24793Iridium 7 
24794IRIDIUM 06    24794Iridium 6     24794IRIDIUM 6     24794Iridium 6 
24795IRIDIUM 05    24795Iridium 5     24795IRIDIUM 5     24795Iridium 5 
24796IRIDIUM 04    24796Iridium 4     24796IRIDIUM 4     24796Iridium 4 
24838IRIDIUM 09    24838Iridium 9     24838IRIDIUM 10    24838Iridium  9 
24839IRIDIUM 10    24839Iridium 10    24839IRIDIUM 9     24839Iridium 10 
24871IRIDIUM 18    24871Iridium 20    24871IRIDIUM 18    24871Iridium 20 
24872IRIDIUM 20    24872Iridium 18    24872IRIDIUM 20    24872Iridium 18 
24905IRIDIUM 24    24905Iridium 46    24905IRIDIUM 24    24905Iridium 46 
25105IRIDIUM 46    25105Iridium 24    25105IRIDIUM 46    25105Iridium 24 
25431IRIDIUM 03    25431Iridium 3     25431IRIDIUM 03    25431Iridium 3 
25527IRIDIUM 02    25527Iridium 2     25527IRIDIUM 2     25527Iridium 2 
I'm not sure what assumptions are imbedded at what levels within Rob 
Matson's and Randy John's programs for these names, but hopefully they 
haven't introduced any new and different ambiguities.  If there is some 
other part of the world I should have considered, please let me know. 
Call me an idealist, call me mesmerized by vulgar names if you like, but I 
would like to see unambiguous names.  I suggest: 
for 24792 = 97-20A, Ir P33   8 
for 25262 = 98-18A, Ir P3 B 51 
for 25287 = 98-21C, Ir P00  64 
for 25470 = 98-51D, Ir P5 V 79    (recently confirmed as a failed object) 
etc.  The first 7 characters of all these names are unique, so it should 
seldom be necessary to type more than that to specify any particular 
object.  I think Motorola should clarify its own vehicle numbers (or have 
they already done that?).  Columns (horizontal spacing) are maintained to 
maximize usefulness.  If you let the columns slip, no ambiguity is 
introduced.  If others would prefer to drop the vehicle numbers, that's 
fine with me. 
The P-numbers may look more complicated, but actually they are supremely 
easy to use and rich in information. 
     The S, T, U, V, etc., objects are failed objects which 
     frequently flash brightly. 
     The B, C, etc., objects are on standby, sometimes they can glint 
     very brightly. 
     The R, etc., (going backward thru Q) objects are replacements 
     for objects which previously occupied the same position. 
     All the rest, together with the R, etc., objects, are 
     operational objects which can glint very brightly and which pass 
     by in numerical order.  E.g., Ir P33 always follows Ir P32 at an 
     interval of 9 minutes.  Should it be replaced, then Ir P33R will 
     do the same. 
The failed and standby objects pass by at variable intervals, interspersed 
among the operational objects. 
In the above, I have generally ignored the Sim objects and the rocket 
For more details, see the simplified table in my recent post to SeeSat-L 
and HearSat-L. 
Walter Nissen         
-81.8637, 41.3735, 256m elevation