NROL-41 search - Sep 21

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Tue Sep 21 2010 - 11:22:49 UTC

  • Next message: Brad Young: "BY Obs Sep 21"

    I did not see NROL-41, aka USA 215, 10046A / 37162, during a brief pre-dawn search on 2010 Sep 21
    I looked for it in the 77002, 77003 and 77004 search orbits, between 04:30 UTC and 04:42 UTC. This
    was at low elevation, using 25x100 binoculars. The sky was rapidly clouding over, but was reasonably
    clear for that portion of the search. Afterward, I observed for several minutes at 50-60 elevation,
    with the unaided eye, until the search area was obscured by cloud. My second pass was clouded out.
    I note that Tim Luton did not see it either.
    I am considering the possibility that the launch targeted a specific RAAN, despite the 34.5 min
    delay; if so, then the plane may be ~8.6 deg west of that of the search elements. Since there are no
    other spacecraft in the likely target orbit, it is unclear why a specific RAAN would be targeted;
    one possibility may be to meet solar illumination constraints.
    Ted Molczan
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