RE: missed 24860

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Sat Jun 18 2005 - 02:35:02 EDT

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    Steve Newcomb asked:
    > I expected to see USA 129 at 83 Ursa Major at 2.40.45 UTC 
    > June 18. I watched a minute before and after with telescope 
    > for nothing. Did I blink? Or wrong place - wrong time?
    Place and time were correct. The object is known to become very faint on some
    western passes, but your pass was nearly overhead, and your point of
    interception was 68 deg high, so it must have been very faint or not there.
    USA 129 has operated in the primary western KeyHole plane for a record-setting
    8.5 years. The previous record was 7.52 years, held by its predecessor, USA 33.
    So USA 129 could be de-orbited or manoeuvred to a retirement orbit any time.
    After 10 consecutive days of cloud, the weather here seems set to improve, so I
    expect to have a look for USA 129 as early as Saturday night.
    Ted Molczan
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