Re: Identification Requested

From: Tony Beresford (
Date: Sun Oct 21 2001 - 09:14:38 EDT

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    At 09:45 PM 21/10/01 , Jim Stamm wrote:
    >I was walking near Tucson (Long.=-109.9   Lat.=32.4) on October 21 at 
    >about 11:20 UTC watching for Orionids when I noticed a ³stationary² 
    >flashing satellite at approximately R.A.=3h 38m  Dec.=-12d.  Without a 
    >watch, my best guess is that the close to first magnitude flashes were 
    >spaced about 6.5 seconds apart. I saw maybe a dozen flashes before they 
    >quickly dimmed to invisibility.  Can anyone identify this object for me?  
    >Iım also wondering if I detected a very slight eastward movement in the 
    >two minutes of observation.
    This was 94 56A known as ETS-6, a well known flasher Jim. Your time
    was withhin 2 seconds and your position within 0.2 degrees which is spot on.
    The eastwards movement was probably real.  This is in a geosynchronous but not geostationary
    orbit ( it does 5 orbits in 3 days or 1 2/3 orbits per day). So in 3 days
    time it will do the same thing some 12minutes earlier in same part of sky.
    I will post more detailed predictions to you privately.
    The satellite is a failed Japanese enginnering test comsat that didnt
    get to GEO orbit because the apogee motor ( a test item) didnt work.
    The enginees used the satellite station keeping engine to put it into
    this orbit so they could test of the satellite transmitters. The flashes
    come from the solar panels on either side of satellite. The spin period
    has been decreasing ever since the engineers went on to other things.
    Here are the latest orbital elements in the usual form. Its inclination
    is 12.0 degrees to the equator.
    I was following this object in 1998 and 1999 but the flash interval
    is now so short its hard to keep track of. Another flasher in near GEO
    orbit you might find in the evenings is superbird A. It flashes around
    03:15UT, and is currently rather low in the east from Arizona. Several
    list members have seen it in last week.
    Tony Beresford
    Adelaide, So. Aust( 34.9638S, 138.633E)
    ETS 6
    1 23230U 94056A   01291.03388685 -.00000062  00000-0  10000-3 0  9384
    2 23230  11.9904 253.7835 5090258 230.5714  72.1458  1.67094255 43698
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