Upcoming Shuttle Mission

From: M. de Jong (madejong@tiscali.nl)
Date: Thu Oct 28 2010 - 18:13:23 UTC

  • Next message: Rob Dale: "RE: Upcoming Shuttle Mission"

    Hello all,
    Greetings from the Netherlands! I've been enjoying observing satellites on and off over the years. Especially in the 1990s I enjoyed observing the MIR while at the same time listening to its radio signals on 143.625 MHz with a handheld VHF receiver.
    Last summer I enjoyed watching satellites while tracking the sat's on my iPhone with an app called GoSatWatch. I also learned about "Iridium Flares" and observed them for the first time this summer using a flares prediction app also on my iPhone (actually the app doesn't make any calculations, but instead retrieves flares data from the heavens-above.com site). I'm amazed at how accurately these flares can be predicted.
    Like I said, I've been observing on and off, and I've never become a real "pro" at it like a lot of you guys on this mailing list.
    Now with the upcoming Space Shuttle Discovery mission that is planned for launch on November 1st (one out of the two last Shuttle missions, if I'm not mistaken), I've decided to try observing the Shuttle before it's too late (never before I've observed a Shuttle pass). I also want to try to capture it with my photo camera.
    What's the best "strategy" to follow? Since the Discovery is going to supply the ISS, the launch inclination of the Shuttle will be ok to observe it from the Netherlands. I've checked the passing times for the ISS for the first week of November, and the ISS does have several visible passes every day that week. I prefer to observe the Shuttle though when it's not docked to the ISS yet, but my guess is that this will be going to be difficult (or not?). Directly after launch the Shuttle's orbital elements will continue changing fast until it's close to the ISS, right? Is there any way to accurately predict the visible Shuttle passes when it's not docked or close to the ISS yet? After launch, how long will it take before the Space Shuttle docks to the ISS? Once launched, is there any way to get the real time, up to date orbital elements before the Shuttle is docked? Once launched, is there any way to get the most recent news on the location of the Shuttle in reference to the ISS!
     ? Observing ISS and the Shuttle close together at the same time would be great also.
    GoSatWatch retrieves the orbital elements for the Shuttle from http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/SSapplications/Post/JavaSSOP/orbit/SHUTTLE/SVPOST.html but I can configure it to retrieve elements from other URLs as well. I wonder at what interval these elements are updated. I can let the app update the elements any time I want.
    I hope some of you will be able to help me set a strategy to observe the Shuttle. This might be my last chance. Thanks in advance! Now let's also hope there will be no cloud cover :-)
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