Re: reasons for tracking

From: Graham (
Date: Mon Aug 09 2004 - 03:07:34 EDT

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    Ted wrote:
    "Who are the others, and how might they act?"
    The goverment. Did you see the documentry on satellite tracking
    which showed interviews with high ranking military personal
    in uniform and the ex CIA personal who stated the Pentagon
    were "pissed off" about hobbyist tracking classified sats?
    This same documentary featured Jeff Chester as the "bad guy"
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Ted Molczan" <>
    To: "SeeSat-L" <>
    Sent: Monday, August 09, 2004 3:03 PM
    Subject: RE: reasons for tracking
    > Graham wrote:
    > <<It would be interesting to know why members are so "addicted" to
    reporting the
    > orbital path of these satelittes Do members see this as a fun game to see
    > many sats they can spot purely for the sake of it?,or maybe they see
    > as  "cheeky spy hunters",or do they feel this information can benefit our
    > on some other level?>>
    > I respect the right of those who own and/or track satellites to withhold
    > orbital elements that they generate. However, the space surrounding Earth
    > belongs to everyone, and I assert an equal right to learn what I am able
    > the objects that orbit there, and to share my findings as I see fit. I
    > believe that there are public benefits to be derived from the efforts of
    > and my colleagues.
    > <<Who actually uses this data?,what is the benefit of making this data
    > Over the past 15 years, our efforts have assisted numerous journalistic
    > scholarly researches into reconnaissance satellites.
    > For example, you may recall that in the immediate aftermath of the loss of
    > Shuttle Columbia, the public and the press asked whether or not, during
    STS 107,
    > the KeyHole imaging reconnaissance satellites could have been used to
    detect and
    > assess the extent of any damage.
    > You may also recall that in press briefings, NASA officials played down
    > potential usefulness of such images, based upon their experience. (Those
    > officials were also adamant that the now infamous piece of foam insulation
    > not possibly have inflicted the fatal damage.)
    > The press wanted to probe more deeply into the issue of satellite imaging,
    > within hours of the tragedy, I heard from NBC reporter Robert Windrem,
    which led
    > me to perform several hours of analysis, resulting in this news report
    (you may
    > need to scroll down the page a bit to find it):
    > That story was a retrospective look at Columbia's very first mission, in
    > when it was rumoured to have been imaged by a KeyHole, due to concerns
    > possible tile damage.
    > Days later, Washington Post reporter Rick Weiss contacted me, asking
    whether or
    > not KeyHoles had been in a position to image Columbia on STS 107.
    > Tony Beresford in Australia, and Greg Roberts in South Africa, had tracked
    > KeyHole USA 129 throughout the mission of STS 107, so we had excellent
    > data, which enabled me to perform the analysis requested by the Washington
    > which resulted in this article:
    > Soon after, I created a web page which provides much greater detail on the
    > matter, including the analysis of a second KeyHole, USA 161, thanks to
    > subsequent excellent tracking efforts by David Brierley and Bjorn Gimle:
    > It was one thing to know that imaging was possible in theory, quite
    another to
    > know that numerous close conjunctions had actually occurred, that would
    > supported very high resolution imaging. Therefore, I believe that our
    > played a small, but worthwhile, role in informing the public debate on an
    > important aspect of STS 107.
    > Also, last year, I was asked to help compile a table of the world's
    > satellites for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's
    > 2003 Yearbook, which includes this acknowledgement of my fellow hobbyists:
    > "The authors wish to acknowledge the international group of hobbyists who
    > annually produce thousands of precise observations of over 100 US military
    > satellites, from which they derive accurate orbital elements. This small,
    > informal group is the sole public source of orbital data for more than 30
    of the
    > satellites listed in these tables."
    > <<As the "hide the tanks" article states some member have 150,000 plus
    > observations over a decade or more;this is a deep commitment which must
    have a
    > driving motivation.>>
    > You refer to the work of Russell Eberst, who has observed satellites since
    > dawn of the space age - for the first several decades in support of
    > researches, more recently in an effort to obtain observational data on a
    > variety of satellites, not only "spy sats". His photometric observations
    are the
    > backbone of the accurate magnitude estimates taken for granted by those
    > many of the popular prediction services and software.
    > <<I would suggest that all trackers do look at all angles of this hobby as
    > may well prove to be it is not your own opinion that matters,but others
    who may
    > have the ultimate power to act.>>
    > Who are the others, and how might they act?
    > Ted Molczan
    > -------------------------------------------------------------------------
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