Re: Laser Beam Observation (MAC Sats)

Jonathan McDowell (
Sun, 26 Feb 95 16:39:28 EST

> 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.

Since you're quoting me, perhaps I should amplify. The MACSATS
were used for comms tests to mobile terminals. They were meant
to be experimental, but were actually used for some operational
purposes in the Gulf war. The two D and E pieces are probably
small clamps or struts used to joint the two MACSATs together.
They definitely don't have laser detectors or reflectors. So
if someone was firing a laser at them, it must just have been
to test a ranging device powerful enough that it doesn't require any cooperation
from the object. But on the whole I am inclined to the view
expressed by Mike:
> 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.

  - Jonathan