Saturday, January 22, 2011

Delta IV Heavy NROL-49 Launch Highlights

And the latest from Ted Molzcan and the SEESAT-L:

Bob Christy has just reported two more radio observations, that are in excellent agreement with the elset I posted a short time ago.

Here is an update taking into account the new data:

USA 224 239 X 1005 km
1 72001U 11020.92423333 .00010870 00000-0 70000-4 0 03
2 72001 97.9000 135.1542 0547001 257.2536 95.0499 14.81439185 05
Arc 201101210-0122.57 WRMS resid 0.367 totl 0.133 xtrk

This should still be considered approximate, but I am beginning to be more confident of the argument of perigee.

When I am more certain of the solution, I will use the official designations: 11002A / 37348. Years ago, I used the official designations for my initial estimates, which often proved to be seriously incorrect, but they still ended up in various archives, creating potential confusion for later analysts, not familiar with the history. Using non-descript IDs like 72001 reduces the risk of that problem, at the expense of being a temporary nuisance for most users.

Final comment: if the latest elements are correct, then our Southern Hemisphere colleagues probably will not be able to make visual observations, due to the passes entering eclipse soon after they rise above the horizon.