Re: NROL-38 pre-launch elements

From: Bob Christy (
Date: Sun Jun 17 2012 - 11:54:55 UTC

  • Next message: Ted Molczan: "RE: Shenzhou 9 estimated elements"

    There's now a backup NOTAM for June 19 - same area but the times are one 
    minute later.
    Bob Christy
    On 16/06/2012 20:59, Ted Molczan wrote:
    > Bob Christy wrote:
    >> If it helps, and you have not factored it in, there is a NOTAM for the
    >> upper stage de-orbit:
    >> WITHIN AN AREA BNDD BY 1900N/17930E 1530N/16900W 0930N/17100W
    >> 1300N/17730E. SFC-UNL. 18 JUN 21:14 2012 UNTIL 18 JUN 22:19 2012.
    >> CREATED: 16 JUN 01:18 2012
    > An excelled find, Bob; and indeed it does help. It did not occur to me that the Centaur would be de-orbited on a GEO
    > mission. The time and location does not fit well with either of the GTO TLEs I estimated. The duration from launch
    > appears to be less than 9 h. If it is a GEO mission, then perhaps the GTO is of the low-altitude type that leave
    > considerable manoeuvring to the payload to reach the final orbit. A manoeuvre near apogee to bring about the Centaur's
    > de-orbit would explain the need for thermal paint. I need to put some numbers to this.
    > There is some evidence that the window may not be planar, as would be expected for an inclined GEO mission. It seemed
    > inconclusive, so I discounted it. This could mean that the intended orbit is geostationary, i.e. zero deg inclination,
    > or perhaps not GEO at all.
    > Others have noted the three-headed dragon on the patch, that has long been associated with SIGINT or COMINT missions.
    > Considering the high-level warning issued several years ago to avoid those sorts of leaks, I have tended to discount
    > recent patches, many of which have been rather bland. I have also been wary of the possibility that new patches might
    > use old themes in new ways to muddy the record. Yet some recent patches seem to have revealed useful information.
    > I intend to look into this further, perhaps tonight.
    > Ted Molczan
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