RE: USA designations, withheld TLEs

Richard T Fredrick (
Tue, 9 Mar 1999 17:37:08 -0600

Hi All,

Well, it looks like OIG is up to their old (new) tricks. Being a government
agency, much like our representatives in Congress, they are answerable first
to their special interest groups (in this case, the U.S. Air Force) and the
public be damned. I've been actively involved in fighting their petty
policies for the past year - this looks like just one more case of a
government agency that is not responding to calls for them to provide what
lawfully belongs in the public domain. Perhaps it's time to file some


Richard Fredrick

* Fairway, KS USA   39.021N 94.637W *
*      *

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Allen Thomson []
> Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 1999 08:26
> To: SeeSat-L
> Subject: USA designations, withheld TLEs
> Vladimir Agapov wrote:
> >It seems TLE sets for ALL satellites designated USA-... (with few
> >exceptions) made classified. My first look into the OIG database
> >shows that 'No elements available' message is attached to
> >almost all Navstar, UHF F/O, FLTSATCOM and also LACE, GFO, ATeX.
> If this is indeed the case, it would seem to be a bit of "back to the
> future."  The USA designations were created back in 1983-1984,
> the same time
> that the US stopped publishing orbital elements for spysats.  The idea
> behind  the common designations seemed to be to make it harder to
> distinguish spysats from run-of-the-mill military ones.  Logically,
> withholding the orbital elements of the nonspysats would fit in with this,
> but AFAIK it was never actually implemented -- until, apparently, now.
> Whether withholding official orbital elements actually keeps people from
> tracking and identifying the satellites is another question, of course.