Re: Fw: Satellite passes in 1996

Tony Beresford (
Mon, 12 Oct 1998 23:49:19 +0900

At 09:07 12/10/98 +0200, Chris Peat wrote:
>I just got this message from a user of our web site. Could anyone please
>help him?
>Chris Peat, Anite Systems
>Currently working at the German Space Operations Centre near Munich
>-----Original Message-----
>From: <>
>To: <>
>Date: 11 October 1998 19:29
>Subject: Satellite passes in 1996
>>My question:
>>Is it possible to retrieve similar data on satellite passes in the
>>year 1996?
>>On June 13, 1996, at about 23.03 UTC I observed a satellite moving
>>from west to east, about 30 - 40 degrees above the horizon. My
>>position was 52.17N 6.38E.
>>The remarkable thing was that this satellite was being accompanied by
>>ten smaller objects, seven in front, three behind. I had to use my
>>binoculars to see this. They were all in the same straight line in
>>which they moved to the east. The distances between the objects
>>didn't change. I've been told that the smaller objects probably must
>>have been debris from the satellite, which must have been in the
>>process of decaying.
>>However, I'm still wondering which satellite it must have been.
>>From NASA's Spacewarn data I gather that it might have been an Atlas
>>2AS Rocket stage (USSPACECOM catalog no. 23462). This one decayed on
>>June 27, 1996. There are no other decaying satellites reported by
>>Spacewarn in the period from June 13 till June 27. But I don't have
>>any track data on 23462, so I'm not sure.
>>Do you have suggestions how I could solve this small mystery?
>>Thanks for your help!
>>Best regards,
>>Frits Westra --
It is unlikely the object you saw was 95 1B. The only orbital
elements available are for the end of march 1996. It only
had a 24 degree inclination, and by June 13 its apogee wouldnt
be high enough. Also it is unlikely to be in the break-up
stage at that point, if it decayed on June 27. 
However your observation CAN be explained more simply.
There was a pass of MIR that was due South of your location
at 2301UT. At that time if memory serves me correctly
outside activity on MIR had resulted in debris being released.
I think there was quite a lot of observations of it reported at the time.
Tony Beresford
Adelaide, So. aust (-34.97, 138.63E)