Re: JUN19-20.OBS

Ted Molczan (
Sat, 22 Jun 1996 10:47:05 -0400

Russell Eberst wrote:

>There is a need to exchange the designations of 92-83A and 95-66A
>as other observers have pointed out. To minimize the associated =
>that will undoubtedly arise, it would be helpful if all observers and=20
>analysts implemented the change-over simultaneously on an agreed date.
>best wishes Russell

Since my last message on this topic, in which I
was leaning to the belief that we had the identities
switched, I have done some more analysis, and I am now
reasonably certain they are indeed switched.

Based on the following 88099A elset, I estimate that its plane was
over the launch site at 18:10:09 UTC on 5 Dec 95, the day that 95066A
was launched. The ideal spacing between the two standard Kh-11 planes
appears to be about 48.9 deg. Based on this spacing, the ideal plane
would have been over the launch site at about 21:25 UTC. 95066A was
launched 7 minutes earlier, practically an insignificant difference.
The time required to reach orbit would account for much of this
difference. The first few weeks spent in the somewhat lower than
operational parking orbit would have made up the rest. Also, the rocket
could have changed its course a little during the ascent.=20

1 19625U 88099  A 95296.80751110  .00022600  00000-0  25552-3 0    06
2 19625  97.8427 358.6110 0526002 174.4783 185.5215 14.76442607    03

The table below, from Novosti Kosmonavtiki No. 26, posted by Allen =
on 21 April 96, provides the Kh elsets, minus the epoch. Based on the =
I estimate that the epoch was on 95358, or 24 Dec 95. This fits well =
the 17-31 Dec period covered by issue No. 26.

In the table, the RAAN of 95066A is 49 deg east of 88099A, which agrees =
the 48.9 deg ideal spacing, to the 1 deg precision of the table. 92083A =
about 51 deg east, well off the ideal spacing, indicating it was no =
the primary "late" Kh. On day 95236, it was 49.8 deg east, not quite as =
of the ideal plane, so it appears that it drifted slowly away to the =
of the ideal plane during the three months preceding 95066A's launch, or
perhaps 88099A drifted slowly to the west.=20

           USA-33     USA-86     USA-116
           1988-099A  1992-083A  1995-066A
           06.11.88   28.11.92   06.12.95
     I     97.82      97.85      97.87
     Hp    281        287        270
     Ha    1002       1021       980
     P     97.56      97.44      96.88
     AoP   334        90         111
     RAAN  59         110        108

Finally, I found that the RAAN of the object we have been calling 92083A =
would have been about 108 deg on day 95358, the same as 95066A in the

The situation around the time that Bjoern Gimle recovered both objects
in early April was confusing, because they were nearly coplanar. Based
on the their day 96167 elsets, posted earlier, I estimate they were
coplanar on about day 96116, give or take a few days. At the time of =
recovery, they would have been only a fraction of a degree apart.

So, I agree with the need for a switch. I suggest that we do so at the
earliest mutually convenient opportunity, say the night of 23/24 June
in Europe. I will agree to any other date and time that everyone else
can agree to.

bye for now