"JBARKER" <JBARKER@arinc.com> said: > First of all the US does not have an obligation to publicly publish > any satellite elements. No one can claim a "right" to any satellite > elements. Well, the U.S. taxpayer can. Since my tax dollars paid for the collection of the data it should be readily available to me unless it's classified or somehow considered proprietary due to a commercial agreement (e.g. something generated by a contractor under a government contract which also uses the contractor's resources) > In the case of certain military satellites the US > has an obligation NOT to publicly publish those elements because to do > so would compromise the investment of the taxpayer dollars that it > cost to build, launch and maintain them. I disagree. If anything the efforts to classify all operational military satellite systems has hurt any efforts to keep them secret. Besides the fact that major adversaries have the resources to track the U.S. satellites independently there's also the amateur factor - SeeSat in particular. Before 1983 all satellite elements were unclassified. Then the "deep black" U.S. satellites were classified and a small cottage industry started among the amateur satellite observers to replace this data. How many postings do you see to Seesat about observations of the U.S. visual reconnisance satellites? How many do you see reporting observations of the French Helios, or the Russian photo-recon satellites? The challenge to obtain the data has made it interesting. We don't bother to try to calculate Helios's orbit because it's information is readily available from OIG. I won't go to any particular effort to see the Canadian Radarsat satellite - that's no big deal. But I will go to the effort to see the Lacrosse satellites because it's more interesting to find something which took the efforts of the amateur community to track. The secrecy has caused much confusion and incorrect statements - look at the various Internet postings on Usenet and various mailing lists about whether or not all civilian GPS receivers will stop working because USSPACECOM is no longer distributing elements. Not to mention that KH-9 manual was stolen and sold to the Soviet Union over two decades ago for about $3,000. As one member of Congress cynically noted "you'd think they would have read it by now." when he was informed that it was still classified and couldn't be discussed in open session. At least the U.S. now admits that photo recon satellites exist! And about the only current adversary to the U.S. which hasn't been freely given classified data on U.S. classified miliary satellites is North Korea. Iraq, India, and other countries _have_ been given plenty of information about the U.S. satellites which is not available to the U.S. taxpayer. And the U.S. and Russia/Soviet Union have been exchanging some data on their 'orbital assets' for over two decades! Mir16609@aol.com said: >IMO GPS, >DMSP, LACE and STEX do not meet these criteria. Their missions are public, >they have homepages on DoD servers, GPS and DMSP (which is controlled by NOAA) >have civilian missions. Actually DMSP is controlled by the Air Force. However its data is publicy distributed by NOAA and some amateurs have built hardware to receive signals from the DMSP satellites. During the Gulf War both the U.S. and Iraqi forces used DMSP data for strategic and tactical planning. Nice of the U.S. to provide that service to Iraq ... LACE is more of a research satellite than anything the military would want to hide, so it does seem silly to try to classify their elements. But then again the efforts to disguise which launch vehicle put TIPS in to orbit was pretty silly too. STEX may be much more classified then we've been led to believe. Didn't somebody note that the orbit was identical to USA 32 and USA 81? I might speculate that the mission has an operational role, plus some technology experiments. And the general public has only been informed about the unclassified technology experiments. The geosync comsats (UHF, DSCS-3, Milstar) really should have publicly accessible elements. None of their orbital slots are classified, all of them can be easily viewed in small telescopes, and in most cases their locations are filed with the International Telecommunications Union. As far as GPS is concerned, I'm not absolutely sure but I believe it would be possible - using completely civilian code to download the ephemeris table from the satellites and use it to generate extremely accurate elements on a PC class computer. I suspect some of the amateurs who have built GPS equipment (i.e. Totally Acurate Clock) would be able to do it fairly easily. Philip Chien, KC4YER Earth News world (in)famous writer, science fiction fan, ham radio operator, all-around nice guy, etc.