Ted Molczan wrote: >Regarding the issue of the object's unusual brightness, Rainer Kracht >reports that he has found that not all Titan 2nd stages have the same >brightness. For example, 96029B's std mag is 3.74, while 91017B's is >4.89. This narrows the gap somewhat, but 96072B's std mag seems to be >between 2 and 3. On the 30th, I found that 2.1 fit the obs well. I wonder if pictures of the booster before or during launch would shed any, ah, light on the matter. IIRC, such pictures have been released for most T-IV launches. >Regarding my speculation about heating at perigee causing out-gassing, >Alan Pickup advises that the atmospheric density at 160 km probably is >too low to cause heating. I think that's right. According to Jeff Richelson in "America's Secret Eyes in Space (ISBN 0-88730-285-8), KH-8s not infrequently did death-defying swoops to 125 km or so, presumably to increase resolution. I doubt that they'd have wanted to be taking pictures during significant heating. Also, people who deal with reentry vehicles have a rule of thumb that "gas light" starts at around 300,000 ft (~>90 km)..