Standard magnitudes for KH-11 Satellites

Philip Chien (kc4yer@amsat.org)
Wed, 6 Dec 1995 23:34:01 -0400

>From: 0412188960-0001@t-online.de (Rainer Kracht)
>Subject: Standard magnitudes for KH-11 Satellites

said:
> Standard magnitudes for KH-11 Satellites
> ----------------------------------------
>
> From Russell's observations (1989 Aug 27 to 1995 Nov 30) I have derived
> standard magnitudes (1000 km, 90 deg).
>
> KH 11-6         1984-122A   282   4.09 +/- 0.06   0.0283 +/- 0.0021
> KH 11-7         1987-090A    59   4.20 +/- 0.16   0.0314 +/- 0.0051
> KH 11-8         1988-099A   351   3.98 +/- 0.07   0.0273 +/- 0.0022
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
>   ALL                       692   4.05 +/- 0.05   0.0283 +/- 0.0015
>
> 92-83A doesn't look like a KH-11 satellite:
>
> USA 86 (KH-12?) 1992-083A    89   5.05 +/- 0.10   0.0205 +/- 0.0030

Remember that USA 86 is the first sunsynchronous classified satellite to be
launched from Vandenberg on a Titan IV.  The recent Titan IV launch was the
second to go in to that orbit (and was even in the same orbital plane!)

Given that the Titan IV has much more payload capabilities than the Titan
34D which it replaces, it's certainly reasonable to assume that this new
spacecraft has much more capabilities (i.e. heavier, larger fuel supply,
larger mirror, etc.) and therefore doesn't look much like its predecessors.

I doubt that the name "KH-12" is accurate.  It's been used by the popular
press, but many industry sources have claimed that there is no such
spacecraft or camera with that designation.  Various names like KH-11A and
KH-11 follow-on have been used, but probably not by anybody who knows the
actual designation.  Code names which have appeared in the the popular
press include "Kennan" and "Crystal".



Philip Chien, Earth News - space writer and consultant  PCHIEN@IDS.NET
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