greetings/ is chris peat pulling my leg?

From: Stephan Szyman (
Date: Thu May 19 2005 - 09:06:43 EDT

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    hello,  everybody.  this is my first post on this board.  i'm steve, in 
    suburban st. louis, missouri, USA.
    I've been observing visible satellites since the autumn of 1998, which was 
    when I first stumbled across the then-DLR website "heavens-above."  the site 
    altered my life,  I guess,  or at least my leisure time...  and well it'd be 
    a lie to say my sleep cycle hasn't changed slightly.   I've observed many,  
    many passes of Mir, the ISS, STS missions when possible, TRMM, HST, lacrosse 
    2,3, and 4 (but not 5 yet,  more on that in a minute),  the GRACE sats, and  
    probably each of the iridium sats at least once,  to name only a few.  I 
    even saw shenzhou 5 rocket before it decayed,  which I felt fortunate to 
    see.  I have enjoyed learning the constellations arrayed as backdrops to 
    these visible satellites. I'm really getting into astronomy and cosmology as 
    a direct result of this hobby, which itself  really stemmed from my interest 
    in and love of aviation and spaceflight.  unpredicted events such as the 
    occasional bolide have added to my experience immensely.  I now have 
    committed to memory the names and locations of all 88 constellations and 
    around 170 individual stars, so I'm starting to feel more confidence in my 
    observations (my navigation seems to have improved also!)  in a nutshell,  
    it's been very rewarding.
    I began keeping a journal of my observations in october of 2003.  many times 
    when I've been out with my dogs, I've been sure to always bring a small 
    flashlight,  a pen, pad, and my watch with accurate time in case I observed 
    anything.  often I will return from one of these walks and look on's "visible satellites brighter than 4.5" lists  in 
    attempts to  identify what it was I've just observed.  sometimes this works, 
      but many times I have been frustrated to find no data which matched my 
    observations,  especially those I've made of some interesting tumbling 
    yesterday, I was chatting with my cousin and he mentioned to me his 
    observation of a trio of satellites in formation.  in an attempt to identify 
    what he'd seen,  I googled the terms "satellites" and "triangles" and found 
    a seesat-L post from 1997...
    I can't express how glad I am to have found you guys! I'm looking forward to 
    learning a lot from this group and hopefully adding something positive to 
    the discussions which take place.  I only hope I don't get on anybody's 
    nerves,  I'm afraid I am very much an amateur, and I'll probably ask some 
    seemingly idiotic questions along the way, so please bear with me.  thank 
    you,  in advance,  to the administrator(s) and all the participants.
    here is the first question I have:  I noticed that recently,  seemingly 
    having to do with the launch of this classified cargo at the end of april 
    (which everyone seems to agree is lacrosse 5), the manner in which 
    "International Launch Code" designations have been applied to objects has 
    been changed from sequential increases (2005-007-A, 2005-008-A, 2005-009-A 
    et c) to now sequential decreases (2005-999-A, 2005-998-A et c.)  is this 
    normal, has this occurred in the past?
    the guy who runs heavens-above,  chris peat,  had previously been very 
    prompt and accurate in posting the data whenever something new went into 
    now,  however,  there  seems to have possibly been pressure applied to mr. 
    peat (please see this article from spaceflightnow:  )
    in mid-april,  I believe around the 15th, the expedition 11 crew launched to 
    ISS.  I knew there were a series of ISS passes for st. louis at that time,  
    so I was excited by a clear forecast. "cool," I thought, "I'll go out 
    tonight and watch the station go by chased by the soyuz TMA!"  you  can 
    imagine my surprise when I logged on to and there was no 
    "new" icon,  no announcement whatsoever regarding the expedition 11 launch.  
    "is mr. peat just getting lazy?"  I asked myself,  then I remembered the 
    aforementioned article on spaceflightnow.  the publication of that article 
    took place in early march,  I believe.
    I went into my email inbox and compared the STK launch alerts against 
    heavens-above's sat database;  mr. peat seemed to have stopped listing 
    newly-launched objects in march and april for a bit.  for example,  
    cartosat-1 is still unlisted. soyuz-TMA-6 (?) was never listed.  nor was the 
    fact that TMA-5 landed safely with chiao and sharipov aboard (it's still 
    listed as being in earth orbit.) nothing is identified as lacrosse 5,  
    though the other lacrosse sats remain listed and there is a listing of the 
    launch vehicle and its orbital info ("atlas 3B" is listed as international 
    launch code 2005-999-A.)
    adding to my confusion, the sat listed just before the lacrosse 5 "atlas 3B" 
    (as a result of searching "year of launch '2005'" in the "select a satellite 
    from the database" portion of the website) is named COSMOS-1.  COSMOS-1?  
    isn't this the upcoming solar sail mission?  from all accounts it is still 
    on the ground (or aboard a russian sub or... you know what I mean!)  also, 
    the dates of launch have been flubbed (intentionally?)
    for both objects the launch date is given as "205."  huh?
    also,  this supposed "Cosmos-1" the guy has listed apparently passes st. 
    louis this morning,  fairly brightly at  magnitude 1.9.
    when I first noticed the listing of such a bright new sat I thought it had 
    to be a mistake,  or that there was a previous object called COSMOS-1 from 
    way back in soviet history sometime.  when I went to heavens,  
    there it was, sitting right next to the atlas 3B launch on the list of 
    satellites launched in 2005.  I'm hoping,  I'm really hoping that mr. peat 
    has just made a series of errors and that he's not bending to pressure being 
    applied from god-knows-who.  I sent him an email questioning what was 
    happening, to which he hasn't replied.  I'm also curious, has or has not 
    COSMOS-1 been launched?  For some reason,  is Lacrosse 5 masquerading as 
    COSMOS-1 on lol
    for some reason, also, the sore-thumbesque designation 2005-999-A has piqued 
    my curiosity.  does sequence really not have too much to do with  the 
    numbers in these designations?  I see that sat observing is much like 
    astronomy,  where can I find a catalog of catalogs?  should I stop using 
    heavens-above and "graduate" to something more accurate and/or complete 
    (perhaps I should reinstall STK and just get TLEs from you guys?)
    one more question, about the legal implications of our hobby:  for US 
    citizens,  do the new regulations mean we are prohibited from discussing 
    sensitive payloads such as Lacrosse 5?  when the government uses terms such 
    as "more tightly monitor" does that mean we should be concerned about what 
    it is we discuss?  I find the notion laughable and nauseating at the same 
    so,  there are my first questions and a pack of comments,  too,  I guess.   
    I hope to use the archive here to determine what some of the as-yet 
    unidentified objects among my journal entries were. the decay alerts also 
    seem especially intriguing.  am I ever glad I found you folks...  clear 
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