Titan-4 Launch

From: Skywayinc@aol.com
Date: Sat Apr 23 2005 - 15:42:15 EDT

  • Next message: Alberto Rango: "4541 PPAS 21 Apr 2005."

        This is my first post to SeeSat-L.  I don't understand why I didn't join 
    earlier, since I've always been interested in observations of satellites and 
    periodically have alerted the general public of favorable passes of the ISS and 
    Shuttle over the years, first on radio and now on television.
        I have a question which I hope someone on the list will be able to 
    answer.  Next Thursday (April 28) is the scheduled final launch of the Titan-4 
    rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket features no upper stage kick 
    booster, such as a Centaur or Inertial Upper Stage that were used in many past 
    Florida flights. It will take just 9 minutes, 30 seconds for the vehicle to propel 
    a classified payload into a highly inclined orbit on the combined power of the 
    liquid-fueled first and second stages and a pair of strap-on solid rocket 
        The launch time is tentatively set for sometime between 8:00 to 10:30 
    p.m.  What this seems to all imply is that this rocket will be launched on a 
    trajectory roughly parallel to the US East Coast.  What makes this interesting is 
    that should liftoff occur early in the launch window, the rocket will likely 
    be illuminated by sunlight while ground observers are in darkness. 
        I vividly recall that a similar situation, involving the Shuttle 
    Discovery occurred on September 12, 1991, (STS-48).  
        In that particular case, viewing from the Greater New York Area, the 
    Shuttle was launched at 7:11 p.m. EDT -- exactly at sunset for NYC.  Eight minutes 
    later, Discovery became clearly visible from NY as a Venus-sized object of at 
    magnitude -5, sweeping rapidly toward the northeast. MECO appeared as a 
    "puff" of vapor.  Normally, in a dark sky, the Shuttle would have disappeared, but 
    because it was illuminated by the Sun, it continued to be visible until it 
    disappeared over the northeast horizon.
        I am now wondering if a similar set of viewing circumstances might exist 
    for those of us along the US East Coast for next Thursday's Titan-4 launch?  
        The only other thing that I have been able to find out about this launch 
    is that Canada's Defense Minister Bill Graham recently voiced concerns that 
    rocket debris from the Titan could fall on offshore oil platforms ~215 miles 
    southeast of Newfoundland and that the trajectory would be similar to another 
    Titan rocket launch in 1994.
    -- joe rao 
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