Re: Milstar 5 Titan 4/Centaur Launch

From: Rick Baldridge (
Date: Wed Jan 16 2002 - 03:38:04 EST

  • Next message: Ed Cannon: "Re: Milstar 5 Titan 4/Centaur Launch"

    A very special thanks to Mike McCants for alerting SeeSat-ers like me to the
    fuel dump of the Centaur transfer stage for the Milstar 5 satellite
    I was able to easily see the fuel dump from Campbell, California (near San
    Jose).  The weather was perfectly clear (but cold!)  I set up an image
    intensified video camera and caught the very first image of the "comet" at
    precisely 7h30m U.T. -- EXACTLY 7 hours after launch per Mike's previous
    post.  The fuel dump expanded slowly, forming a definite comet-like cloud
    that reached about 1/2 degree wide at best about 10 minutes later.  It was
    never spectacular naked-eye, but could easily be seen.  I first spotted it
    naked-eye a minute or so after the camera dutifully recorded the exact time
    of the outburst.
    The first image on the video at 7h30m U.T. January 16th from my location at
    N37.262 W121.977 was at RA 9h10.6m DEC -6.36 degrees, which was also at
    Altitude 37.35, Azimuth 139.1.
    I had used Matson's SKYMAP to determine the on-station location of DBS-2,
    close to the 95-West location Mike predicted to pre-aim the video camera.  I
    started it running at 6h55m U.T. using a 50mm lens giving about a 30-degree
    field of view.  After acquiring the "comet", I switched to a 400m lens,
    giving about a 4 degree field of view.  The view was spectacular!  The
    camera then was able to pick up the satellite (or the Centaur) at the
    end-point of the comet cloud.  VERY interesting to say the least!  I stopped
    recording at 7h54m U.T. as the cloud had faded considerably, but was still
    visible in 7x50 binoculars and still easily visible on the video.
    I currently do not have a place to post pictures, but if anyone is
    interested in some frame-grabs of the video I took, I'd be happy to send one
    as an E-mail attachment.  Requests can be sent to
    Thanks again, Mike!
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Michael McCants" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2002 2:30 PM
    Subject: Milstar 5 Titan 4/Centaur Launch
    > The countdown for the launch of a Titan 4/Centaur with the
    > Milstar 5 payload is continuing at Cape Canaveral.
    > The launch is now scheduled for 7:30PM EST.
    > The deployment of the Milstar into near-geosync orbit will
    > take place about 7 hours after launch.  After payload separation,
    > the Centaur should vent its excess fuel and oxidizer.  This could
    > create a "comet" about 22000 miles over the equator near longitude
    > 95 west.
    > Mike McCants
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