Chinese bird spotted over Spain

Ruben Velasco (
Sun, 21 Nov 1999 08:59:09 +0200

Hi list,

Just for the record...   For the first time in my life, I've seen
a chinese manned spacecraft (ok, just a test vehicle ;-) using the
elsets posted at OIG a few hours ago.

I've only managed to see the brighter object of the four,
cataloged as #25956 (known as #25957 during the first hours). It
came out of Earth's shadow right on time at 05:59:40 UTC with the
expected trajectory.  It was at perigee, only 205 km away (78deg
alt) so it seemed pretty bright to me (and fast). Magnitud was no
lower than 2, I would say.  No special colour. As long as I can
say, I didn't observe any tumbling or intensity variations, so it
was quite a boring sat after all.

I couldn't see the other objects, maybe the stage had already
decayed. Alan's SatEvo predicted a decay for today (propagating
the original TLEs posted here). The other two perhaps were too
small to be seen with my cheap binoculars, not to say against
the city background glow on the horizon. As the "capsule" hasn't
been landed yet, there are a few hours left for you to look for
it until the next landing window over China.

#25956 has the letter "A" attached to its designation, so this
should be the "thing".  Nothing strange, no signs of life from
solar arrays, no flares, no nothing. I will believe all this
thing about the Project 921 when I'll see it, I mean, when I see
on TV some chinese guys nuts enough to blast off atop a Long March
rocket. It all seems very anachronic to me, 1960's stuff (like all
manned space missions, by the way). 100% politics. </opinion>.

Among other sats adding to the show last night were three Cosmos
spent stages (#12988 making an overhead pass), Lacrosse 2, and of
course the flashes of good old EGP-Ajisai.

Observations were made from  37 26'N 006 11'W  with 12x50
binoculars between 5 and 7 hours UTC of Sunday 21 Nov 1999.

Clear skies....

Ruben Velasco <> 37.3877N 6.0008W +39m WGS84
PGP KeyID 37219E45  Fingerprint = 96575B8713370081 1BC5D43D324B3F4D

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