Need obs of Shenzhou 7 and rocket in parking orbit

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Wed Sep 24 2008 - 15:31:41 UTC

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    I would very much appreciate receiving observation reports of Shenzhou 7 and its
    rocket, made during the first 6h 53m after launch, when Shenzhou is likely to
    remain in its elliptical parking orbit. I seek observational confirmation that
    the rocket's 2nd stage is propelled into a slightly lower orbit than Shenzhou,
    as a result of its separation manoeuvre upon orbital insertion. This portion of
    Shenzhou missions seldom is tracked by US Strategic Command, so I had to deduce
    this information.
    Assuming launch on 2008 Sep 25 at 13:10 UTC, it would remain in the parking
    orbit until 20:03 UTC. This is based on the practice of previous Shenzhou
    Observations are welcome from anyone in a position to make them.
    Mid-latitude southern hemisphere will have morning twilight passes, with the
    objects near apogee. New Zealand and parts of southern Australia will have good
    passes during the period of interest.
    Mid-latitude northern hemisphere observers will have evening twilight passes,
    with the objects near perigee. A couple of examples: Italy has a high elevation
    pass near 17:40 UTC. Observers in the U.K. and France near latitude 50 N will
    have a challenging pass near 19:10 UTC, culminating less than 10 deg below the
    horizon, with about half of the pass in eclipse.
    I do not require precise positional observations. It will suffice to time the
    passage of Shenzhou and its rocket to the nearest second or so, as they pass
    between the same pair of stars, or near the same single star. Both are expected
    to be in the sky at the same time, on nearly same the path.
    Also, please note the brightness and any variation of both objects. The rocket
    may slowly tumble, causing it to vary regularly in brightness, and possibly to
    flash. I recommend referring to them as "leader" and "trailer", though I am
    fairly certain that the rocket will lead.
    Time-permitting, I will provide look-angles to anyone who could potentially make
    the above observation, but who do not know how to make their own predictions
    using the search elements below. Please contact me off-list with your latitude,
    longitude and time-zone.
    Search elements for Shenzhou 7 (70700) and its rocket (70701) listed below are
    subject to revision in the event of a change in the planned/actual date/time of
    Shenzhou 7       7.8  2.5  0.0  5.4 d                    198 X 339 km
    1 70700U 70700A   08269.59627480  .00794136  00000-0  60000-3 0    06
    2 70700  42.4153 193.9946 0106040 130.0626 230.9292 16.02866600    07
    Shenzhou 7 r    15.5  3.4  0.0  4.4 d                    198 X 334 km
    1 70701U 70700B   08269.59626106  .00809611  00000-0  60000-3 0    06
    2 70701  42.4153 193.9946 0102545 130.0626 230.9292 16.03716253    03
    Please note that the elements of Shenzhou 7 are valid only until it circularizes
    its orbit, at 20:03 UTC on Sep 25. Its post-circularization elements are
    available here:
    Clear skies!
    Ted Molczan
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