More NNAs?

From: George Olshevsky (george.olshevsky@gmail.com)
Date: Sun Jan 08 2006 - 22:05:36 EST

  • Next message: Russell Eberst: "2006JAN9.OBS"

    On February 8, 1988 a Delta 3910 from Cape Canaveral put a classified
    payload identified as USA 30 into low earth orbit. What I've gleaned
    from the Internet, including Jonathan's website, and the World
    Spacecraft Digest, is that this satellite was to test tracking of
    simulated enemy ballistic missiles. It carried some 15 subsatellites
    to be released during the first nine hours of flight for tracking
    purposes, including four with solid rocket motors to simulate missile
    plumes. Apparently these tests were successful.
    
    So--where are all the objects? The catalogue has only four objects
    associated with this launch, and here they are:
    
    
    1988-008A       18847   USA 30                        US      02/08/1988
           88.1    28.6      195        168      5.9400  03/01/1988
    
    1988-008B       18848   Delta 3910 TR-201 2nd stage   US      02/08/1988
           87.2    30.7      140        135     41.8400  04/02/1988
    
    1988-008C       18849   SPX subsatellite?              US      02/08/1988
           87.6    28.6      163        148      0.4100  03/05/1988
    
    1988-008D       18854   SPX subsatellite?              US      02/08/1988
           89.1    28.6      287        173      0.2600  02/13/1988
    
    The columns wrap into two lines: International ID, catalogue number,
    name (or my own identification), agency, launch date, period,
    inclination, apogee, perigee, RCS, and decay date.
    
    By my count, there should be as many as 17: the spacecraft, the second
    stage (this Delta had no third stage), and the 15 subsatellites. Maybe
    only 16, if the main spacecraft (USA 30) and second stage remained
    together as a unit--but note the big RCS for the B object and the
    substantial but rather smaller RCS for the A object.
    
    Did the subsatellites eject as planned or did they not? I would
    imagine, since this was supposed to be a tracking exercise/mission,
    that they would have been catalogued promptly had they ejected. Space
    Track identifes the C and D objects as USA 30 debris.
    
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