TOOLS IN ORBIT

Philip Chien (kc4yer@amsat.org)
Sun, 13 Dec 1998 20:17:49 -0500

JAY RESPLER <JRespler@surfnj.net> said:

>This excerpt from my News email list:
>
>>In their earlier space walks, Ross and Newman connected electrical and data
> cables and attached antennas to the outside of Unity. The work went well,
>although two tools and a thermal cover got away from Ross and floated away --
>>rare mistakes for America's most experienced space walker.
>
>2 items have showed up. So what is the third and has it been
>logged yet?

It's right there in your news story - a thermal cover.  I suspect that it's
got a fairly samll radar cross section and may not be cataloged.

There were also a couple of very minor debris like the spool which held the
Russian TORU antenna in place.  I suspect that that object would be very
close to the limitst of what USSPACEOM could track (based on the size of
the ODERACS radar calibration targets).

Good luck trying to view them!  (OBJ Seesat comment)

>                      Satellite Catalog Action Report
>
>From: 1998/12/06
>Through: 1998/12/13
>
>The following objects have been reported as cataloged:
>
>Internatnl
>Designator   CatNo Common Name     Source LaunchDate
>------------ ----- --------------- ------ ----------
<snip>
>1990-111D    25563 SL-8 DEB                  CIS
>1998-069D    25564 STS 88 DEB (WIRE CARRIER  US     1998/12/04
>1998-069E    25565 STS 88 DEB (SOCKET)       US     1998/12/04
<snip>

This makes sense.  Notice that no USSPACEOM catalog numbers were saved for
the upcoming SAC-A and Mightysat minisats.  However the International IDs
have been saved for them (B and C).  It's interesting to speculate whether
or not the international designations would get changed if there was a
technical problem which precludes the deployment of the two satellites.

I don't expect the U.S. Node to get a separate designation since it was
never flying on its own, however there have been inconsistencies in the
past in this regard.

If this current numbering scheme keeps up each of the Russian launched
components (Service Module, Docking Module, etc.) would have separate
desginations, however the shuttle launched components shouldn't.  Debris
from spacewalks while the shuttle's docked will be given international
designations based on the shuttle.

I suspect debris generated by the space station during spacewalks will get
international designations based on Babylon 1 (1998 67xx) but also that
there will be inconsistencies there too.

As far as country codes are concerned I am rather amused that FGB has a
U.S. designation.  The U.S. provided the funding, so I supopse it's the
equivalent of a U.S.-built satellite for Mexico launching on an European
rocket in terms of designation.

It's anbody's guess as to which country will be identitified as the debris
from spacewalks once space station's occupied.  (hmm, did the Russian or
U.S. spacewalker drop that wrench overboard?  And was that a U.S. or
Russian built wrench?)




Philip Chien, KC4YER
Earth News
world (in)famous writer, science fiction fan, ham radio operator,
all-around nice guy, etc.