From: George Olshevsky (
Date: Wed Jun 13 2007 - 14:07:36 EDT

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    On 6/12/07, JAY RESPLER <> wrote:
    > Catalog # 31404.
    > Either something just broke off Vanguard 3, or this object has been around
    > since launch and has to be one of the oldest items in orbit ever identified.
    > --
    > Jay Respler
    This is the second small object recently discovered in orbit with
    Vanguard 3. I suspect that the third stage, which was an ABL X-248
    (first and only one to be used with a Vanguard launch vehicle) and
    made of glass-reinforced plastic, remaining attached to the paylaod,
    might be slowly coming apart after 48 years in orbit. I reread the
    NASA account of the launch, which includes drawings of the payload and
    a photo of the third stage, and was unable to find any suggestion of
    small hardware that might have been discarded at the time of orbital
    insertion. The payload was designed to remain joined to the third
    stage in orbit as a unit. Barring better information to the contrary,
    I'll be listing objects 29005 and 31405 (not 31404) as Vanguard 3
    X-248 third-stage fragments.
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