RE: Amateur's watching NRO sats

From: Ted Molczan (molczan@home.com)
Date: Sun Nov 26 2000 - 20:18:07 PST

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    Regarding Allen Thomson's comment to the Washington Post:
    
    > "If Senator Kerrey believes that amateurs are doing significant
    > harm to U.S. national security, he should wonder why the NRO has
    > spent many years and many, many billions of dollars building
    > systems that allow the national security to be damaged by a few
    > hobbyists working part time with $50 worth of WalMart equipment,"
    > Thomson said."
    
    This reminds me of the few weeks during the spring of 1987 when I had
    permission to directly telephone US Space Command's orbital analysts, working
    at their consoles in Cheyenne Mountain, in order to obtain current elements of
    the rapidly decaying PAGEOS balloon fragment 66056CG / 13795.
    
    The analysts were courteous, but guarded. One of them seemed surprised that I
    could track satellites at all, and asked, "do you have sensors?" I laughed, and
    said, "well I never thought about them in that way, but I guess my binoculars
    and stop-watches qualify as sensors." As I recall, he said nothing in response.
    My WalMart sensors must have seemed pathetic compared to his Neiman Marcus
    sensors.
    
    Nevertheless, we more than held our own. Here are NORAD's final 66056CG
    elements:
    
    1 13795U 66056CG  87107.95135050  .06756693  00000-0  17016 0 0  5610
    2 13795  82.5347  82.5347 2467514 257.7783  73.9121 10.49797293140361
    
    We managed to track the object several days longer than NORAD, mainly because
    we assigned it higher "tasking" than NORAD:
    
    1 13795U 66056CG  87108.13906000  .18275499  00000-0  35111 0 0    09
    2 13795  82.5388 168.5269 2448175 257.6410  65.6380 10.56916033    06
    
    1 13795U 66056CG  87109.00000000  .15400000  00000-0  16613 0 0    02
    2 13795  82.4800 168.1560 2360000 257.0400 132.4800 10.81291210    08
    
    1 13795U 66056CG  87109.12344988  .16390000  00000-0  28733 0 0    06
    2 13795  82.5511 168.0180 2254200 255.7120 280.7420 10.98067400    08
    
    1 13795U 66056CG  87111.13289410  .46697310  00000-0  17878-2 0    06
    2 13795  82.5960 166.8390 1567250 260.2180 144.8820 12.87716600    00
    
    Ted Molczan
    
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