Multiple objects from Titan IV VAFB (99028A) launch?

Ted Molczan (molczan@home.com)
Wed, 26 May 1999 16:24:00 -0400

I believe that it would be prudent to search orbits in the same plane as
99028B at launch, with mean motions of 15.9, 15.4 etc, just in case the
payload(s) is/are lingering in LEO.

I recall that the NOSS 2-1 (90050A) payloads were launched from Cape
Canaveral into a very low 61 deg orbit, separated from the Titan IV 2nd
stage, and then manoeuvred to a 454 km, 61 deg parking orbit (15.4 rev/d)
where they stayed for about 2 weeks before vanishing. Months later, Russell
Eberst found the NOSS 2-1 sats in the same plane as NOSS 1-8, about 1100 km
altitude, 63.4 deg inclination.

The 2 successful NOSS 2-X launches from VAFB (91076 and 96029) followed a
different orbital deployment than 90050, so there is nothing to say that the
latest launch is not another variant.

I notice that a gap may be developing in the satellite catalogue, that could
be indicative of multiple objects  from 99028. Here is the result of a query
I ran a few moments ago:

UNK
1 25743U 99027D   99143.61198456 -.00000203  00000-0  00000+0 0    68
2 25743  16.4705 226.7126 5173332   0.7151 359.8808  1.87830809   139

25744  No TLE found.

UNK
1 25745U 99028B   99144.99058024  .00785832  79431-5  55546-3 0    42
2 25745  63.3898  93.1775 0070162 170.4206 189.8324 16.10130841   112

25746  No TLE found.
25747  No TLE found.
25748  No TLE found.
25749  No TLE found.

UNK
1 25750U 94029AEH 99143.89593001  .00002081  00000-0  68643-3 0    19
2 25750  82.4265   8.1212 0348587  19.4246 339.8979 14.08446832  5736

25751  No TLE found.
25752  No TLE found.
25753  No TLE found.
25754  No TLE found.
25755  No TLE found.

Perhaps 25746 - 25749 are 99028 objects, that may or may not have been
deployed/jettisoned. Time will tell.

Even if this is not a NOSS launch, it is worth remembering that the SDS 2-1,
SDS 2-2 and SDS 2-3 launches lingered in LEO before manoeuvring to Molniya,
so there may yet be something to see. The SDS exhibit one second flash
periods, due to spin-stabilization.

I hope to post some search elements later this evening.

Ted Molczan