Rocket debris - was Re: GFO/ORBCOMM Obs, 13 Feb 98

Philip Chien (
Sat, 14 Feb 1998 00:34:10 -0400 said:

>     I asked my colleagues in Orbcomm's Flight Dynamics Group what objects
>     were really there (noting Ron's 'Orbcomm deb?') note and the response
>     was that there are five (5) objects:
>          GFO
>          Orbcomm sat G1 (FM3)
>          Orbcomm sat G2 (FM4)
>          3rd stage of Taurus rocket.
>          DPAF (adapter between GFO and Orbcomm)
>     There is no Orbcomm debris!

While there's no "Orbcomm" debris, the DPAF certainly qualifies as Taurus

Granted it was anticipated and part of the normal operating mode.  But
anything additional in orbit besides the operational satellites qualifies
as debris.  In a real sense the third stage of the Taurus (actually fourth
stage if you count the Castor 120 but you know what I mean) also qualifies
as debris.  Certainly it - and its 30 "passengers" are a road hazard to
other spacecraft.

Speaking of operational debris -

>              Weekly Satellite Situation Report
>   Date:  February 06, 1998

>Newly Cataloged Objects:
>Internatl.                   Catalog Object Launch Period Incli- Apogee
>Designation  Name            Number  Source Date   Mins.  nation KM     KM
>1992-072E    ARIANE 42P+ DEB 25150   ESA    28 Oct  237.2    7.6  12450
>1992-072F    ARIANE 42P+ DEB 25151   ESA    28 Oct  438.1    6.6  25097

This is the Galaxy 7 launch from about five years ago.  The parameters are
clearly that of an object in GTO.  The only GTO object was the Ariane 3rd
stage since this was a single satellite launch (e.g. no SPELDA).

It seems strange that there should be two additional new objects so long
after launch - possibly the first tracked objects from an 'event'?

Philip Chien, KC4YER
Earth News
world (in)famous writer, science fiction fan, ham radio operator,
all-around nice guy, etc.