RE: how useful are these old elsets?

Ted Molczan (
Tue, 14 Jan 1997 11:08:33 -0500

Jeff Hunt wrote:

>As to, "are they still in orbit"; well, OIG's d(a)ta base still lists them 
>as "no elements available" so it seems they are still in orbit. I believe if 
>they had decayed they would list them as "decayed" even though they are 
>classified sats and OIG doesn't provide elements for them.

That might seem like the logical thing to do, but
NORAD does *not* issue decay notices for decayed
secret objects. The following (to name a few) have 
long-ago decayed, but are still in the catalogue:


The first three objects were de-orbited, as is usual 
for KeyHole's. The last three are Titan 4 2nd stages, 
which decayed naturally. 90050E and 96038B were followed 
almost to the "end" by Russell Eberst and Pierre Neirinck, 

The currently tracked 96072B will decay in early February, 
but will still be in the catalogue years from now, unless 
NORAD changes its policy.
Clear skies!