RE: Possible reentry captured over Chile ?

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Sun May 19 2013 - 23:25:17 UTC

  • Next message: Kevin Fetter: "2 weeks until ISS marthon"

    On May 10 UTC, I wrote regarding the observed decay of 2013-016D / 39145:
    > Since Cygnus was the primary payload, it correctly received the "A" designation, 
    > but the wrong orbit was assigned to that designation. It will be interesting to
    > see whether and how USSTRATCOM attempts to correct the record. Regardless, we can be
    > confident that the object that decayed on May 10 UTC was Cygnus.
    I just noticed that USSTRATCOM has corrected the error by swapping the names assigned to 2013-016A / 39142 and 2013-016D
    / 39145, so that the former is now called Bell, and the latter is called PAYLOAD SIM (CYGNUS). 
    Initial confusion regarding the identity of objects from new launches is a common problem, and probably unavoidable. In
    the case of objects in reasonably long-lived orbits, USSTRATCOM typically makes identity corrections by swapping the
    orbital elements among designations. USSTRATCOM has no mechanism to re-issue TLEs bearing new the IDs, so it is left to
    users to organize the old data to best suit their needs. (In my own software, I deal with this problem by storing TLEs
    with their original catalogue number and international designation, but grouping them by a logical catalogue number that
    conforms to what I believe to be reality.)
    Since the 2013-016 pieces had already decayed, no new TLEs would be issued; therefore, there would be no opportunity to
    make the ID correction by swapping orbital elements. In that case, swapping the names solved the problem in a way that
    creates the least confusion, with the minor drawback that the primary payload did not end up with the conventional "A"
    Ted Molczan
    Seesat-l mailing list

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sun May 19 2013 - 23:26:27 UTC