Admin: Space-Track.org and SeeSat-L

From: Ted Molczan (molczan@rogers.com)
Date: Tue Jan 11 2005 - 05:47:30 EST

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    This message announces an important new SeeSat-L rule, so please read it
    carefully.
    
    On 2005 Jan 3, I registered to use Space-Track.org, which is expected to replace
    NASA/OIG after 2005 Mar 31, as the only official U.S. government-operated source
    of 2-line orbital elements and related information.
    
    The Space-Track.org site is well-designed, and it offers several enhancements
    over NASA/OIG, including:
    
    - historical data can now be accessed immediately
    
    - a file containing the latest elements of all objects that have been updated
    within the past 30 days is made available as a bulk download. It is updated
    twice per day.
    
    - bulk files containing all updated elsets issued on each UTC calendar day
    
    The one unhappy note is the very restrictive user agreement, which requires
    obtaining approval from the U.S. Secretary of Defense in order for a user to
    share data obtained from Space-Track.org with a third party. Somehow, I doubt
    that the speed of such approvals would be commensurate with the speed of a
    satellite.
    
    Late last week, I contacted Space-Track.org to learn whether or not any
    simplified/expedited approval process to share elements exists. I was informed
    that one does not exist at this time, but there appears to be a recognition of
    the need for a streamlined process, and early efforts in that direction are
    under way. How long this will take, and what form any approval procedure may
    take, is unknown.
    
    In the meantime, in order to comply with Space-Track.org's user agreement, I no
    longer share with anyone, elements or other data, e.g. RCS values, that could
    have been obtained from that site. This includes elements of unclassified
    objects obtained from NASA/OIG or third parties, since those same elements are
    now available from Space-Track.org, making it almost impossible to prove their
    origin. This applies also to historical elements, since those now are also
    available from Space-Track.org.
    
    Where in the past I might have included an elset of an unclassified object to
    substantiate an argument, now I state only its name, international designator,
    catalogue number and epoch of the elset in question, and leave it to interested
    readers to obtain the actual elset.
    
    From now, until further notice, I expect all SeeSat-L subscribers, even those
    who are not yet Space-Track.org subscribers, to follow this same practice when
    posting to the list. 
    
    Elements of classified objects produced by hobbyists or other non-U.S.
    Government sources remain on topic. Also acceptable are U.S. Government elements
    of now classified objects that were issued by NASA/OIG prior to classification.
    
    I recommend that all who anticipate the need/desire to share elements and other
    data obtained from Space-Track.org, to contact them and suggest what form of
    approval process would work best for you. That is what I intend to do.
    Hopefully, before too long, a practical process will emerge.
    
    Discussion of this post, as well as Space-Track.org and its user agreement are
    on topic.
    
    Ted Molczan
    Admin, SeeSat-L
    
    
    
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