Presumed Titan IV objects' flashing

Ted Molczan (
Wed, 15 May 1996 00:13:15 -0400

John Pike wrote in response to Walter Nissen's
posting of Ron Coursen's Titan IV related obs:

>>He reports seeing an object consistent with the 
>>anticipation at 0912, flashing with a 6-second period

>This one I could understand as the RB.

>>and a second bright object following in its path at 0914, 
>>flashing like a flash-cube, with a 1-second period. 

>This one I am having a bit more trouble with. I am assuming that this
>"bright object" is the payload prior to the triplet separating, as I can't
>immediately think of where another *bright* object would come from. I
>confess that I am a theoretician rather than a practicioner, but on the face
>of things this strikes me as an awfully short period for a rocket body [and
>in any event, would not the initial object have been the lower beta RB??],
>and I don't 'think' that the PL would normally be flashing like this if it
>were functioning normally. Does anyone recall seeing something like this

The NOSS 2-1 payload carrier was observed for 
several days in June 1990, flying free of the 
Titan's 2nd stage. Russell Eberst's only reported
observation included a 5 s irregular flash period. 
The Titan's second stage flashed with a 1 s period.

I spoke with Ron Coursen myself this evening, and he 
told me that the rapid flasher abruptly stopped flashing 
at closest approach (maximum elevation) and did not 
flash as it receded. Flashes were estimated at magnitude
zero, and they were very regular in frequency.

He also reported that the slow flasher was flashing 
about every 12 s - the 6 s period he reported to Walter 
was from minima to maxima.

It is unclear which of the present objects is the payload,
but additional obs should provide the answer.

Strangely, Ron Lee observed an apparent Titan IV object
on the very next rev after Ron Coursen's obs, with nearly
identical circumstances, yet he reported no flashing. It is
not clear which object he saw, but the time and path are
very consistent with Ron Coursen's first object. I am not
surprised that Lee saw only one object, because the eastern
sky was already getting bright. Coursen found the second
object by accident.

bye for now