Friday, October 08, 2010

Super Mega Spectacular Session

This is by far (pretty much double) of any session I've done to date. Twenty-five objects in one sitting. I think I went out around 7:45pm and finished up around 10pm (even though my last sighting was at 9:30pm). Craaaaazy man. Crazy!

Here's the time-line of this evening:
Date: 08-Oct-2010 Friday

7:54pm - Cosmos 1340 Rocket - 3.3 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1982-013-B
This is my first sighting of this specific Vostok-2M rocket body. When I think of Russian rockets, the vostok style is the type of rocket I think of. This style of rocket is what was used in the early days of the Russian space program. The Sputnik and Molniya rockets are similar in form to the Vostok rockets as well. Anyhoo... Kosmos 1340 is (like many Kosmos satellites I see) used for ELINT (electronic intelligence).

7:57pm - Cosmos 2455 - 3.2 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2009-063-A
First sighting! Kosmos 2455 is a Russian ELINT satellite (surprise!). This particular satellite is part of the next generation electronic intelligence satellite system named Liana. This model of satellite is called Lotus-S. Currently, this is the only satellite of this type deployed. Also of note, this is not in a generic low-earth orbit (LEO) but is in Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO); most likely polar sun synchonous orbit. This type of orbit (which is most likely also classified as LEO) is useful for image-taking satellites because, since the satellites orbit means that it is in synch with the sun, the shadows will always be in the same place.

8:01pm - Shijian 6-3B - 6.0 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2008-053-B
This object is one of the Shijian 6 satellites. It is known as either SJ 6E (E = fifth letter) or SJ 6-03B (since this was the on third flight, though for some reason the first satellite in a particular launch is always named B and the second is always named A. Not sure why.) Shijian 6 satellites generally have a life of 2 years, which is why they have been launched in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 (including this satellite) and 2010 (which will be seen later on this evening). As with the other SJ-6 satellites, this was launched into space using a Long March 4B rocket. While the Chinese have not released the mission of these satellites, the guess is that they are ELINT satellites.

8:04pm - Cosmos 1833 - 4.2 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1987-027-A
This object is Kosmos 1833 which is (yet another) Russian ELINT satellite. There sure are alot of those out there. This particular satellite is a EPN 03.0694 model. It's a dynamic simulator. Yeah, I don't know what that means either. But it's one of the many many many little dots going across the sky and it may or may not be looking at me or listening to my cell phone conversations. Or not.

8:04pm - COSMO-SkyMed 1 - 2.7 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2007-023-A
COSMO-SkyMed 1 is part of the Italian COSMO-SkyMed program which is planned to have four satellites. Surprise, it's Italy's recon satellite system to take a peak at what people in Europe are doing. This particular satellite is the first satellite that was launched for this program. It was launched on June 8 2007 aboard a Delta-7420 rocket. I've seen SkyMed 1 and 3 but not SkyMed 2. I'll need to put that on the 'need to see list'. SkyMed 4, the fourth and final COSMO SkyMed satellite will be launched on Halloween. Oh, and this is my first sighting of this satellite.

8:07pm - Cosmos 923 Rocket - 4.2 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1977-059-B
Another first sighting! This is an older object which was launched in 1977. This particular object is the rocket body for a Russian Kosmos-3M rocket. The Kosmos-3M rocket has been used in 445 launches since 1967 with only 27 failures and is still used today.

8:08pm - Resurs 1-4 Rocket - 2.4 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1998-043-G
Yeah... it's the Resurs 1-4 again. Good ol 1998-043-G. This would be sighting number 6.

8:10pm - Abrixas rocket - 3.0 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1999-022-C
For the second night in a row, I spotted the Kosmos-3M rocket (see above) which launched the ill-fated Abrixas satellite (you know, the one whose batteries were overcharged and fried three days after being put into orbit.

8:18pm - Fengyun 1B - 5.6 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1990-081-A
Fengyun 1B is a Chinese meteorological satellite for the Fengyun program. Feng Yun means "wind and cloud". This was the second satellite for this particular program and is actually the second and last test satellite before they started putting the real satellites into orbit. This satellite was launched into orbit using a Long March 4A rocket. This is my first sighting of Fengyun 1B.

8:20pm - Hélios 1B - 3.1 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1999-064-A
First sighting! The Hélios 1B is a French optical reconnaissance satellite. While it was scheduled to operate for 5 years, it had a power supply failure just shy of that milestone. It's twin, Helios 1A, still continues to function today. Regardless, Helios 1B was launched using an Ariane 40 rocket. Here is a pic of the satellite.

8:24pm - Coronas F rocket - 2.3 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2001-032-B
This is my first sighting of this Russian Tsyklon-3 rocket body. This particular rocket launched the Koronas-F astronomy satellite. (What? It's not a recon satellite?)

8:31pm - Meteor 1-31 Rocket - 3.4 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1981-065-B
This object is the rocket body of a Vostok-2M. This rocket launched the Meteor 1-31 satellite which is a Russian earth resource satellite. I can tell you more about that in 22 minutes when I spotted Meteor 1-31 itself.

8:35pm - MeaSat 3 BrTnk - 3.2 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2006-056-B
This is the Briz-M upper stage tank of a Proton-M rocket. This particular rocket launched the Malaysian MEASAT-3 communications satellite. It is one of four in the MEASAT Satellite Systems. This is my first sighting of this object.

8:35pm - Tansuo 1 LM2r - 2.9 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2004-012-C
This is a Long March 2C rocket body which was used to launch the Tansuo 1 satellite which was capable of taking stereo imaging. I've seen this object 5 times so far.

8:36pm - Cosmos 1441 - 2.9 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1983-010-A
Cosmos 1441 is a Russian ELINT satellite, a Tselina-D model. It was launched using a Vostok-2M rocket. This is another first sighting.

8:45pm - Cosmos 1680 Rocket - 3.4 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1985-079-B
This is my first sighting of this Kosmos-3M rocket body. It was used to launch the Kosmos 1680 satellite which is a Strela-2M military communications satellite.

8:53pm - Meteor 1-31 - 4.4 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1981-065-A
First sighting! This object is a Meteor 1-31 satellite or Meteor-Priroda. It was a weather satellite or maybe for remote sensing of the Earth from space. This was the Meteor 1-31 was the last of the Meteor-Priroda satellites launched.

8:55pm - CZ-4B DEB - 3.5 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2010-051-D
This object is some debris from the Long March 4B rocket which launched the Shijian 6 satellites SJ-6G and SJ-6H.

8:57pm - SJ-6G - 3.5 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2010-051-A
This is the SJ-6G satellite from the Shijian 6 program. It was launched on Oct 6th 2010. This is my first sighting of SJ-6G (3 days after launch), however I saw SJ-6H yesterday after having been launched only 2 days prior. This is my first sighting of this satellite.

9:00pm - SJ-6H - 3.7 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2010-051-B
This is the SJ-6H satellite from the Shijian 6 program. As with the other Shi Jian 6 satellites, they studied the environment of space... but possibly were also testing ELINT technologies.

9:01pm - Lacrosse 5 - 4.4 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2005-016-A
You know this guy by now. Lacrosse 5 is a satellite owned by the National Reconnaissance Organization (NRO).

9:02pm - Shooting star - 3.0 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: yeah, right
Seeing shooting stars is always nice because they are always unexpected and bright and gone as soon as they were there.

9:07pm - Cosmos 1606 Rocket - 4.4 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 1984-111-B
This object is a Tsyklon-3 rocket body. It was used to deploy the Tselina-D satellite Kosmos 1606 which (shocker) is a Russian ELINT satellite.

9:22pm - NOSS 3-3 (A) - 4.2 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2005-004-A
First sighting! This object is the NOSS 3-3 A satellite. NOSS stands for Naval Ocean Surveillance System. It's also known as USA 181.

9:22pm - NOSS 3-3 (C) - 4.2 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2005-004-C
First sighting! Supposedly NOSS 3-3 is actually a PAIR of satellites. NOSS 3-3 A is the main satellite and then this object is NOSS 3-3 B is known as the trailer satellite. The NASA site doesn't even acknowledge this which is odd. But whatever. This is the third pair of NOSS 3 satellites. A fourth pair was launched in 2007 however the Centaur upper stage shut down early. The satellite's propulsion system was not able to move it into its intended orbit so they were left in the wrong orbit. It's listed as a 'partial failure' which probably means that they can still do their spy business but not as well as they could have. Or something.

Whew!!! Thanks goodness that is over!

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