RE: International designation

Ted Molczan (
Sat, 28 Sep 1996 13:29:55 -0400

Anthony Beresford, responding to Alphonse
Pouplier's query regarding an inconsistency
in my application of pre-1963 international

>Upt ill 1963 the method of International designation used
>the Year of lanch, one or two greek letters and sequencing
>within the launch. thus there were 1962 alpha1... 1962omega,
>1962alphaalpha 1962alpha-beta 1962alpha-omega, 1962 beta-alpha
>which you note and past 1962 beta-kappa ( of fond personal
>memories). This got too cumbersome and for 1963 onwards
>its was just a number sequence in each year.
>Lately Ted Molczan has been modifying his codings to translate
>the older form to one consistent wity the newer.

All that is correct, but I want to make clear
that I simply followed NORAD's lead in adopting
the post-1962 format a few years ago. I should
change the usage in my explanatory texts, to
prevent confusion.

As to the definitive format, I am not certain, but
it is close to:

yyyy-nnn ppp

where yyyy is the year of launch
       nnn is the order of the launch
       ppp is the piece from the launch, beginning with A, omitting
           I and O because they can be confused with 1 and 0.

There are many variants of this in common use. For example,

yynnnppp (NORAD/OIG as in 85 10  B)

yynnnppp (NORAD/OIG as in 85010B)

yynnnppp (Molczan's n2l file, like 85010  B)

yyyy-nnppp (RAE Table of Satellites, for nn<100, as 1985-10A)

yyyy-nnnppp (RAE Table of Satellites for nnn>99, as 1985-100A)

In correspondence, I use yynnnppp, like 85010B. I find it easy to comprehend, and it is easy to keyboard.

I vaguely recall that Walter Nissen posted the definitive COSPAR
format some time ago, but I can't find it in my message archive.

Ted Molczan