Elements of Helios 2A and 2B on space-track.org

From: C. Bassa via Seesat-l <seesat-l_at_satobs.org>
Date: Sat, 19 Mar 2022 14:49:33 +0100
Since the start of January 2022 the orbital elements of Helios 2A
[28492/04049A] and Helios 2B [36124/09073A] are no longer classified
and available on space-track.org. These elements show that both
objects have begun to lower their orbital altitudes from their
operational altitude of 680 km. From checking my local copy of
classfd.tle, this has been the altitude they have maintained since at
least 2020.

A plot of their orbital parameters since the start of this year can be seen at:
https://postimg.cc/2bwr4h3b

Interestingly, two items of debris have been attributed to Helios 2A
and are listed as 50796/04049J and 50797/04049K, whose NORAD catalogue
IDs indicate they were added to the catalogue around the end of
December 2021, beginning of January 2022. This is very close to the
declassification date of these objects (around January 4, 2022) as
well as the Helios 2A and 2B payloads.

The declassification and orbital lowering may indicate these payloads
are no longer actively operated. Interestingly, the orbital elements
of the 4 Essaim objects, launched together with Helios 2A remain
classified, as does the Helios 2B Ariane 5 R/B [36125/09073B] and a
debris item Helios 2B DEB [40135/09073C].

Regards,
   Cees
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Received on Sat Mar 19 2022 - 08:50:48 UTC

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