Molczan's TLE format after Dec 31

Ted Molczan (
Wed, 29 Dec 1999 12:12:17 -0500

Those who rely on the elements I post to SeeSat-L, mainly SGP4-formatted
versions of Pierre Neirinck's elements, may be interested to know that I am Y2K
ready - have been since Dec'95.

Lacking any clear guidance from U.S. Space Command, NORAD or NASA/OIG, here is
how my software would format a fictitious element set of an object launched on
the first day of the year 2000:

1 30000U 00001  A     1.12345678  .00000012  00000-0  96352-4 0    17
2 30000  67.8901  45.6789 0012345 123.4567 234.5678 12.34567890    08

I believe that the International Designation is self-explanatory.

In the epoch, the leading zeroes of the day of year have been dropped, which
was common NORAD practice when I wrote my program, in the late '80s. That may
or may not have been common practice in recent years, but I have not bothered
to keep up with minor changes.

The year field of the epoch is blank. If NORAD decides to show one or both of
the zeros, then I propose to do likewise.

My programming experience (BASIC, FORTRAN) leads me to believe that blank
spaces in numeric fields are always read as zeros, so the decision to show
leading zeros is mainly one of aesthetics. I will take a close look at NASA/OIG
elements on 01 Jan 00, and most likely will follow their example on leading

Ted Molczan

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