re: NASA viewing predictions

Philip Chien (
Wed, 20 Aug 1997 16:54:52 -0400

catching up now that the shuttle mission's finished.


>Around 1984, as a long time satellite
>observer, I offered to generate predictions for them on the side.  I
>developed a national and international cities list and began to provide
>those predictions until around 1988. At that time I changed jobs and the
>Flight Dynamics folks offered to pick up the prediction generation task
>at JSC. The JSC PAO office was reluctant for this transition, but the
>NASA Flight Director office that I supported required me to hand it
>over, since I work for a contractor company here.

I've tried to encourage the public affairs office at the Kennedy Space
Center to publicize viewing opportunities with mixed success.

For the first HST servicing mission (STS-61) I calculated that Hubble would
make an incredibly good visible pass about an hour after the planned
shuttle launch.  I tried to ask the public affairs comentator to include it
in his spiel, but he wasn't willing to since the information didn't come
from an "official" source.  I reminded him that I was one of the two people
who correctly predited the orbit and identity of DoD-1, but that didn't
help convince him.

About an hour after Endeavour launched about a handful of us snuck out of
the post-launch press conference and went to the big field where you see
the clock and flag on NASA Television and watched Hubble go overhead.
Afterwards I went back in to the press conference to hear NASA manager and
former astronaut Loren Shriver comment about how this mission was of
particular interest to him since he was one of the people to see Hubble
last up close (he was the commander for the STS-31 mission which deoployed
Hubble).  Afterwards I commented that I was one of the most recent people
to see Hubble (from a bit further away of course ...)  We chatted casually
for a while until somebody came in and commented that Endeavour was coming
over - I had totally lost track of the time.  So we all went outside, and
it was rather special to watch Endeavour on its first orbit with a couple
of the key managers responsible for its launch.

I had better luck with the second HST servicing mission (STS-82).  By
coincidence the launch date chosen resulted in almost identical sun angles,
and I gave the viewing information for both Hubble and Discovery to launch
comentator Lisa Malone.  She passed the information on to the public during
the 9 minute hold.  So if you were listening to that countdown - I was the
source for that info.  (please hold your applause).

Once again we snuck out of the press conference to see Hubble, but by the
time Discovery came over the skies were cloudy.

For the STS-84 Mir rendezvous mission several of us watched Mir go by.  A
couple of folks asked if that really was Mir and I quipped "Sure, can't you
see the Russian flag?".  Strangely some folks seemed to believe me ....  We
listened to the amateur radio packet downlink on my handheld radio and I
made a comment about how the crew was waving at us.  Sure enough once Mir
went over the Russian ground station network the Russian commander
commented that he saw the Cape at the same time we were viewing Mir.

Philip Chien [M1959.05.31/31.145//]