RE: DMSP F16 is finally launched

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Sat Oct 18 2003 - 13:10:08 EDT

  • Next message: Kevin Fetter: "orbit of dmsp f16"

    A note of caution about the search elements, kindly updated by Kevin Fetter: 
    they are derived from the previous DMSP launch (99067A / 25991), which entered a
    slightly lower orbit than its recent predecessors, making its orbital period
    about 8 s shorter, on average. If today's launch reverts to the higher altitude
    orbit, then the object will arrive nearly 2 min early per day after launch.
    This should not be a problem, as long as appropriate allowances are made. If
    cloudy weather prevents prompt acquisition (within a day or two) of the object,
    then I will issue an additional search elset, based upon one of the higher
    possible orbits, to help bracket the search.
    The orbit is well placed for observation by the majority of active positional
    observers, in the northern and southern hemispheres.
    Finally, its is worth watching NASA/OIG; initial elements of the previous DMSP
    were issued about an hour after launch, and updates continued for 24 days before
    being withheld. I don't know whether or not that was policy, or an error; either
    way, the object will be easy to track.
    Even if elements appear, we can assume that their availability will be
    temporary, so probably would be a good idea to start obtaining positional
    observations now, to provide for a smooth transition to hobbyist tracking.
    Ted Molczan
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