Asiasat 3 is going around the moon!

Jens Lerch (fxws326@rz.uni-frankfurt.de)
Sat, 25 Apr 1998 23:53:31 +0000

Hello fellow satellite watchers!

I just read on http://www.spacer.com that the stranded Asiasat 3 is 
going to do a lunar gravity-assist to get into GEO. Asiasat 3, a 
HS601, was launched last December on a Proton, but the Blok DM 
fourth-stage failed to insert Asiasat 3 into GEO, leaving it in an 
GTO inclined 52=B0 to the equator.

At first I thought it is a late April's fools day joke, but 
current Elsets of Asiasat 3 clearly show that it is raising its 
apogee:

from alldat.zip
97086A 
1 25126U 97086A   98106.85733635 -.00612680  00000-0 -92786+1 0   774
2 25126  51.3580  65.1674 8658092  22.1753 358.1960  0.76489911  2512
Age: 9.1 days Apogee: 87,854km Perigee 399km Period: 31.4 hours

from eccen.zip
97086A 
1 25126U 97086A   98113.50552080 -.00000830  00000-0  00000+0 0   838 
2 25126  51.2190  64.6880 9155682  22.3370   0.0000 0.37893032  2547
Age: 2.5 days Apogee: 148,144km Perigee 433km Period: 63.3 hours

It would be great if the *professionals* in this list could analyze 
Asiasat's 3 previous behavior and predict where and when it 
will probably do its perigee passes and when it will fly by the 
moon.

It could be possible to see Asiasat 3 before and after lunar 
gravity-assist with the right equipment!

Press release of Space Frontier Foundation 
(available at http://www.space-frontier.org/)
******************************************************
GROUP REVEALS FIRST COMMERCIAL LUNAR MISSION                          
IN TRANSIT

       Los Angeles, CA, April 24, 1998 -- The Space Frontier
       Foundation, a national media and policy organization, disclosed
       today that the operators of AsiaSat 3 ,a privately owned
       communications satellite stranded in a useless orbit last
       December, have maneuvered the spacecraft into an orbit that
       could swing by the Moon. According to data made available by
       the U.S. Air Force and the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, the
       orbit of AsiaSat 3 has been increased over the last month to
       send the spacecraft in the direction of the Moon, likely making
       this the first commercial operation in the lunar vicinity.
       AsiaSat 3 is almost 10 times the size of the Lunar Prospector
       satellite that recently discovered ice at the lunar poles. 

<about two-thirds of press-release deleted to safe bandwidth>
******************************************************

Clear Skys!