Laser Beam Observation (MAC Sats)

Mike McCants (mike@comshare.com)
Sun, 26 Feb 1995 15:07:51 -0600

Bart's last message:

>Anyway, I tried finding some more information on Macsat 1 and 2, but didn't
>find anything on the nature of their mission. Does anyone know what they
>are/were supposed to do? Are they military satellites?

>What about the 90- 43 D? Why is it called 'Deb ?' ?
>When did the debris appear? At launch?

Here is a pair of sentences from Jonathan's Space Report for
May 15 1990 (no.39):

]Two MACSAT (Multiple Access Comsat) lightsats were orbited by 
]Scout G-1 from Space Launch Complex 5, Vandenberg AFB on May 9.
]The satellites are a joint Navy/DARPA project.

](c) 1990 Jonathan McDowell

Here are the 8 entries from Joel Runes' catalog:

Macsat 1         0.36 0.61 0.0  9.7 &            755 x 606
1 20607U 90043A   94114.19219581  .00000158  00000-0  25361-4 0  9823
2 20607  89.9307 180.1853 0105743 285.2360  73.7161 14.63855956211310
Macsat 2         0.36 0.61 0.0  9.7 *            751 x 605
1 20608U 90043B   94127.62133209  .00000217  00000-0  35090-4 0  9857
2 20608  89.9281 179.9729 0103523 232.9738 126.1984 14.64699946213349
Macsat 1/2 r     1.5  0.46 0.0  8.3 &            727 x 594
1 20609U 90043C   94117.16623900  .00000487  00000-0  73115-4 0  1860
2 20609  89.9204 179.0898 0095054 241.4427 117.7178 14.70205512212352
Macsat 1/2 D     RCS = 0.06 &                    688 x 568
1 20610U 90043D   94116.18031855  .00001628  00000-0  19802-3 0  3867
2 20610  89.9241 179.3895 0086052 195.5224 164.3301 14.80406336212991
Macsat 1/2 E     RCS = 0.07 &                    676 x 562
1 20611U 90043E   94110.17469739  .00002465  00000-0  28249-3 0  5897
2 20611  89.9319 181.0366 0081229 203.5476 156.2037 14.83264975212362
Macsat 1/2 F     RCS = 0.06 &                    668 x 568
1 20612U 90043F   94110.19590358  .00002206  00000-0  25409-3 0  4002
2 20612  89.8968 176.0543 0071033 199.9977 159.8478 14.83595799212492
Macsat 1/2 G       DECAYED    1 MAR 92
1 20613U 90043G   92060.35570463  .15921707  00000-0  14957-1 0  9223
2 20613  89.9060 188.2231 0013363 350.1370   8.7474 15.94369449 98041
Macsat 1/2 H     RCS = 0.10 &                    663 x 567
1 20614U 90043H   94111.15619311  .00002517  00000-0  28320-3 0  4967
2 20614  89.9189 178.8145 0068636 192.2213 167.7355 14.84705259212736

So yes, all 5 debris pieces were cataloged at the time of the launch.

The pieces of debris show consistent RCS values of about 0.06 square meters.
That would be about 20 by 30 centimeters.

Maybe the moral to this story is that if someone says I saw something
in about that direction at about that time, there will always be at
least one of the 4000 pieces of debris in approximately the right
direction at the approximate time of observation.  Call me skeptical.

Mike