tethered satellite

Joe A. Dellinger (jdellinger@amoco.com)
Mon, 26 Feb 96 17:12:39 CST

	In 1993 (?) there was a satellite "SEDS-2" that similarly escaped with
a long tether. The NASA team that made the satellite had not expected it to be
easily visible with the naked eye, and were caught rather flat footed when it
turned out indeed it was. (They didn't have any budget to solicit observers,
and didn't even have a very good e-mail connection!)

	They were very interested in getting reports of what it looked like:
when the tether broke again, did it remain straight or have a kink at the end,
etc, etc. They posted predictions for various cities to sci.astro, and I helped
them out by running an automated e-mail service on my workstation that would
auto-reply with local predictions when sent e-mail with a latitude, longitude,
and elevation. They also found a little money to have a "contest" for best
videotape of the satellite.

	I only had one favorable pass with good weather, but I still remember
it well. The satellite had an extraordinary and beautiful appearance: a normal
satellite "star", but with a ghostly line of light attached. (As I recall,
the tether ended up hanging straight down, with a slight kink at the end
where it was being dragged more by thicker atmosphere.)

	To thank me for my help the NASA folks mailed me a sample of the
tether material. It was a bright white braided twine, maybe half a millimeter
in diameter. Amazing to think it was easily visible with the naked eye, but it
was.

	If it's a similar tether material this time, it should easily be
visible to the naked eye. PLEASE post predictions and orbital elements here if
they are known! I'd like to see that again!