XSS-11 observed by Russell Eberst

From: Ted Molczan (seesat@rogers.com)
Date: Thu Nov 10 2005 - 13:12:00 EST

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    Congratulations to Russell Eberst for reporting the first visual observations of
    XSS-11 (05011A / 28636).
    
    XSS-11 was in close proximity to its Minotaur booster rocket's upper stage,
    which is in the following orbit:
    
    XSS-11 r         1.3  1.1  0.0  7.6 v
    1 28637U 05011B   05313.20554038  .00000036  00000-0  20000-4 0    00
    2 28637  98.8610 303.8192 0015637 323.1159  36.8936 14.11048001    07
    Arc 2005 Oct 29.24 - Nov 09.23, WRMS residuals = 0.014 deg
    
    On 2005 Nov 07 near 05:50 UTC, Russell observed XSS-11 "about 20 arcmins ahead"
    of the rocket:
    
    http://satobs.org/seesat/Nov-2005/0066.html
    
    At the time, slant range was about 1072 km, so 20 arc min was equivalent to
    about 6 km separation, along-track.
    
    On 2005 Nov 09 near 05:30 UTC, Russell observed XSS-11 0.04 s (time) ahead of
    the rocket:
    
    http://satobs.org/seesat/Nov-2005/0098.html
    
    Angular velocity at the time was near 0.36 deg/s, so the 0.04 s time separation
    was equivalent to 0.0144 deg. Slant range was about 1134 km, so separation was
    about 300 m, along-track. That is quite close, so apparently, Russell observed a
    rendezvous in progress.
    
    Russell's observed magnitude of 8.2 on Nov 9, suggests XSS-11's standard mag is
    about 7.3 (1000 km, 90 deg phase angle).
    
    The two objects can be readily distinguished because XSS-11 is stable, and its
    rocket stage is rotating, resulting in about a 10 s period of variation of
    brightness.
    
    XSS-11 has returned images of its rocket, which leads me to wonder whether it
    could take them fast enough to make a video showing its rotation:
    
    http://www.popsci.com/popsci/aviationspace/c75af8183ef27010vgnvcm1000004eecbccdr
    crd.html
    
    Ted Molczan
    
    
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