Re: "Stealth" satellites

Sean Sullivan (tssulliv@unix.amherst.edu)
Tue, 9 Jun 1998 19:51:34 -0400 (EDT)

I don't know which satellites Thomson has in mind, but the obvious four
candidates are the A objects from the three NOSS block-2 launches, plus
the STS-36 payload.  The latter object was found (by accident - it turned
up as an unid much later) but it did disappear for a long time.  The A
objects associated with the NOSS-2 launches are more mysterious; I have
seen one of these objects (90-050A) through heavy clouds, but it
maneuvered and was not seen again (my obs was probably *before* deploy
of the NOSS cluster, so it may have been a single package at the time.

To throw out some half-baked ideas, the Molniya-like inclination of the
NOSS clusters suggests the possibility that the mystery A objects are in
some kind of eccentric orbits with fixed perigee latitude.  I have also
heard the idea floated that they may be hiding in "debris fields" from
some breakups (seen but not recognized as interesting).  I personally
think that these A objects are among the most interesting DOD mysteries.

-- Sean Sullivan