USA 129

Dave Mullenix (djmullen@facstaff.wisc.edu)
Mon, 4 Aug 1997 01:47:14 -0500

A friend of mine was standing in front of his house in Madison, Wisconsin,
USA (-89.366667, 43.066667) at about 02:30 Aug 1, 1997 (UTC) when a neighbor
pointed out a bright satellite climbing up the southern sky.  At first he
thought it was too bright for a satellite and mistook it for an airplane
with its landing lights on.  Then, as it got nearer, it flared to
"INCREDIBLY bright", glided silently overhead and winked out as it went into
earth's shadow.  All this occurred during twilight, when it was still quite
light out.

It looks like he caught a pass of USA 129 / 96072 / 24680.  Does anybody
know what this satellite does and how big it is?  It must have some very
large solar panels or something - my friend said it looked almost like a
searchlight for a couple of seconds.

Dave Mullenix, N9LTD