Re: Hobbyist=terrorist?

From: Graham (
Date: Tue Aug 10 2004 - 09:55:42 EDT

  • Next message: Leo Barhorst: "LB obs 2004 Aug 09"

    nice reading -)
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Greg Roberts" <>
    To: <>
    Cc: "Willie Koorts" <>
    Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2004 11:05 PM
    Subject: Hobbyist=terrorist?
    > 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!
    > Cheers
    > Greg
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