From: Greg Roberts (grr@iafrica.com)
Date: Tue Aug 10 2004 - 09:05:50 EDT

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    I am following with interest the discussions dealing with
    hobbyists tracking classified satellites and as one of 
    these hobbyists I would like to add my 2 cents worth.
    I acquired an interest in space around 1948 and by 1953 
    was already a great fan of space travel and was thrilled 
    when I first saw the rocket casing of Sputnik 1 passing 
    overhead in the early evening and from that day on I was 
    bitten by the satellite tracking bug.Another exciting 
    sighting was that of an early DISCOVER (KH2) mission, so 
    when an appeal was put out for amateurs to join the 
    MOONWATCH network I was one of the first to apply but was 
    turned down as I was a lone observer in a small town and 
    what was wanted was a MOONWATCH team.I joined other 
    orgnisations interested in tracking such as the Volunteer 
    Satellite Tracking Program run by Norton Goodwin 
    (Washington DC) which later became the Independent 
    Tracking Co-ordination Program which is were Mike McCants 
    and I first became acquainted. I also joined the Western 
    Satellite Research Network funded by North American Aviation.
    In 1960 I eventually became part of the MOONWATCH Network 
    and was provided with equipment and data and we were used 
    to provide backup for US launches as South Africa was 
    invariably the first country over which a launch from Cape 
    Canaveral would pass. A collegue and I formed the Durban 
    Satellite Tracking Station a few years later and we were 
    even approached by a US Government official to see if we 
    were prepared to spend time trying to track Soviet lunar 
    missions. In addition we were also part of the United States 
    Air Force satellite re-entry observation program.
    In 1966 I had an interview for a position of observer at the
    Baker-Nunn Tracking camera at Olifantsfontein (S.Africa) but
    had to turn it down as it had no long term job security and 
    in 1968 took a part-time job as an observer at the then Royal 
    Observatory,Cape Town photo-kine theodolite which was set up 
    by the UK Royal Aircraft Establishment in support of the research
    work being carried out by Desmond King-Hele and associates.
    In 1968 I became a professional astronomer and ceased my optical
    tracking activities except for being involved in the backup 
    optical tracking of early Apollo missions using a 26.5 inch 
    refractor and 20 inch reflector. Instead of optical tracking 
    I took up the radio tracking of transmitting satellites and 
    became part of the Kettering Group that was run by the late 
    Geoff Perry which mainly concentrated on Soviet and Chinese 
    space missions and provided a great deal of information.
    In October 1999 I retired from being an astronomer and returned 
    to my main interest which was satellite tracking. Being lazy and 
    somewhat handicapped both physically and by poor observing 
    conditions I decided that the best way to track satellites was 
    by using video techniques and thus CoSaTrak was born. On account 
    of my geographical position it was realised that the most useful 
    thing I could do was to track the so called classified satellites. 
    I have nothing against the United States and if I thought that 
    what I do represents a serious threat to the USA I would not track 
    such satellites, however my view is the same as other observers - 
    if we can do it on a shoe string budget, then how much better a 
    country could do it if they had far more money and resources than 
    we have. 
    I believe I and others are a product of the Space Age - our 
    interest was nurtured and supported directly or indirectly by 
    the United States government and now that amateur observers are 
    no longer needed this same government regards these observers as 
    a threat. Some of us have spent a major part of our lives, free 
    of charge, to support the space program in one way or another and 
    now some "high ranking military personal in uniform and ex CIA 
    personal state the Pentagon were "pissed off" about hobbyist tracking 
    classified sats?" - memories are short it would seem - especially 
    when sprouted by individuals who apparently are not blessed with much 
    grey matter between their ears.
    Shall I continue to track classified satellites ? - YES, certainly 
    as long as I am able. These satellites pass over me and spy on my
    country (and me!) and I believe I have the right to observe and do 
    what I wish, provided I do not break the law in my country.
    Sorry - my 2c worth turned out to be a lot more than 2c!
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