Re: one other sat from soyuz launch seen

From: Greg Roberts (
Date: Fri Sep 18 2009 - 08:23:00 UTC

  • Next message: Greg Roberts: "SUMBANDILA satellite"

    Hi Kevin
    Well done on observing the objects from the Soyuz launch - unfortunately I 
    dont have visibility - and then only for a very short time until December.
    Yes two objects are close together - #35867 and #35870.  One is the South 
    African satellite SUMBANDILA and the other is FREGAT/IRIS. I see #35870 has 
    now been identified as the FREGAT/IRIS which I would imagine would be the 
    brighter of the two.
    During SUMBANDILA's first pass over the University of Stellenbosch (- about 
    25 kms from where I live) - where it was constructed and there is a 
    satellite command center, some 10 minutes after it had seperated from the 
    Fregat rocket over Antacrtica, it was succesfully commanded on and all 
    appears well. It will be under control of this university for the first 
    three weeks and then it will be handed over the Remote Satellite Sensing 
    Center near Johannesburg, South Africa.
    Of course its one of the items on the local news/TV channels but some 
    quotes, emanating from the University, made me cringe in my arm chair. Since 
    you have seen it, or possibly the larger object, you can judge for yourself 
    as to how correct the following statement is:
    "people will be able to see it with the naked eye every evening as it 
    crosses South Africa between 8 and 9 pm!!!!!"
    ouch- a microsat at 500 kms visible to the naked eye ? in sun-synchronous 
    orbit clear of earths shadow every night ??
    Another amusing comment that was apparently made by the Minister of Science 
    and Technology who watched the launching was that she demanded it be 
    launched -- maybe the opinions of the launch team/managers/weather/technical 
    problems dont matter ??
    All in all an interesting event.
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