Re: Article claims OTV-2 spying in Tiangong-1

From: Brian Weeden (
Date: Fri Jan 06 2012 - 13:08:50 UTC

  • Next message: Greg Roberts: "Optical 05 Jan 2012"

    Bob, i agree.  The BBC came to me for a counterpoint but I stayed away from the orbital dynamics due to their complexity to the public.  That's always a tough call.
    Sent from my iPhone
    On Jan 6, 2012, at 7:51, Bob Christy <> wrote:
    > The orbits of X37B/OTV-2 are very similar in altitude and inclination. 
    > The difference of RAAN has changed slowly from 98° to 100° during the 
    > lifetime of Tiangong 1. Which means that their trajectories meet at a 
    > very high angle - not exactly satellite inspection grade! The angle of 
    > interception is so great that the same effect could have been engineered 
    > from a large range of inclinations for OTV-2.
    > Bear in mind that OTV-2 was launched first.
    > Do we also believe that the USAF had advance knowledge that the 
    > Tiangong/Shenzhou 8 mission would be at a subtly different inclnation 
    > from previous missions - 42°.8 rather than 42°.4?
    > The story originates from the British Interplanetary Society magazine as 
    > a "scoop" but totally ignores the RAAN issue. Unfortunately it was taken 
    > at face value by BBC News and that is how it spread. The BIS has openly 
    > stated in an e-mail to all members that it intends to raise 
    > "controversial issues" in order to increase membership, and hence income.
    > Bob Christy
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